What is the best mulch to use to avoid termites?

by Dianna

I need to apply mulch to my garden beds but I have heard it attracts termites, is this true? If so, is there a particular kind of mulch or mulch alternative to use in order to keep my garden beds moist and protected but not attract termites? Thanks

  14 answers
  • Phyllis Osborne Phyllis Osborne on Mar 21, 2018

    There are many types of mulch the type you need depends on the area you live in, check with your local garden center they will advise you good luck!

  • Ideally one should maintain at least six inches of distance from the top of the garden bed to the bottom of the siding. Mulch is fluid, meaning it moves with wind, rain, doggies, and kitties running through it. Termites do not attack this type of material for that reason. Unless it's solid like a log sitting on the ground they will not be attracted to this type of material. Ants on the other hand love the stuff. The mulch rots and is damp. Two things ants look for. So use cedar mulch instead of hardwood types. Also do not waste your time with colored mulch. It looks fine for about a week or so, then the sun bleaches out the color and it looks dull again. Cedar mulch contains natural oils that resist insect activity and it tends to last a much longer time than hardwood as a result. Bit more expensive but it's worth it. Stone should be avoided because it heats the ground and causes the soil to dry out much faster. If you go that route then plan on watering the plants daily or install a soaker hose under the gravel. Of course, use a weed block under whatever you choose. Commercial quality weed blocks are much more money than the stuff you get at the big box stores. And it's worth it. Comes in larger rolls and is much tougher than the thin fabric they sell at the local home center. Lastly stone lasts forever. Should you want later on to change up the look, you will need to deal with the disposal of the stone.

  • Mary Insana Mary Insana on Jun 10, 2013

    Last summer I put rubber mulch nuggets down on a sloped garden. Not only did it stand up to the harsh Pennsylvania winter, but it also didn't blow away, slide down the slope, or change color. It is a little more expensive but when you add up re-mulching every year this is a good way to go. I bought it at Home Depot.

  • DesertRose DesertRose on Sep 01, 2018

    Either mulch over weed paper, or rocks over weed paper would be fine. If you use mulch you might want cedar or cypress mulch as it does not attract termites etc. like many mulch types you can buy.

  • Cindy Boyd Cindy Boyd on Sep 02, 2018

    I personally prefer pine needles. They look great and don’t attract insects or termites. Much easier to lay and I know my roses, hydrangeas, and boxwood love it. Just put about 3 inches down I don’t even use a landscape barrier. If u get a weed or two they are really easy to remove. I’ve been using it for about 3 years now. I replace it every spring. I purchase my pine needles from Lowe’s by the bale just in case you need more than you can rake up. Good luck

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jun 02, 2013

    You have to be careful about any wood close to your house. Firewood, for example, should be stacked away from the house. Cypress does not attract termites but other woods have to be treated if you plan to use them next to your house. Some companies sell treated pine and other woods. Beware of free give-a-ways of mulch from people who cut down trees or municipalities who mulch up Christmas trees unless it is for a mulch bed some distance from the house...and then you still need to watch it for termites.

  • Dale B Dale B on Jun 24, 2013

    In our landscape business, we don't use any hardwood mulch. It is notorious for causing termites and also ties up the nitrogen in your soil causing your plants to yellow. We use cedar mulch in areas where there tends to be erosion because it will not float off as bad as some and is a little stringy so that it bonds together a bit. The one we recommend is pine bark mulch. Make sure it is a quality pine that only has bark in it. Many of the discount stores sell pine bark mulch that includes center wood with it. This will cause termites and has the same nitrogen problem that hardwood has. Happy Gardening.

  • Michele Pappagallo Michele Pappagallo on Jun 08, 2017

    We laid about a foot wide strip of gravel next to the house and then put mulch. It keeps the termites away, plus it helps keep dirt from splashing up on our house when we are watering, etc.

  • Mom15365177 Mom15365177 on Jun 09, 2017

    Lava rock works as a weed blocker and looks good too. I have never used mulch because I want to prevent bugs from being too close to the house.

  • Smile4meevery1 Smile4meevery1 on Jun 09, 2017

    You can buy treated mulch from a store or nursery.

  • DesertRose DesertRose on May 29, 2018

    Not if you get the right chips. Ideally, you should use cedar chips. We use sycamore as it is cheaper and also discourages termites.

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Jul 09, 2018

    Perhaps you can use newspaper, cardboard or even straw instead?

  • Beverly Beverly on Jul 09, 2017

    We put a weed barrier about 12 inches wide around the perimeter of the house and covered it with river rocks. We also did the same around the base of our trees and along the backside of the retaining wall next to the neighbor's chain-link fence around his field. It looks great and there is zero upkeep. We also planted yellow bushes along the end of our dead-end street with the same weed barrier and river rocks, again next to the neighbor's chain-link fence around his field. If you do something like the street bushes be sure to have an agreement in writing from your city just in case they should at some time want to make that street go through, even if there are no plans for it now. We agreed to put drip irrigation on them since we live in an arid country and to take them out if and when the city decides to put a street that goes through. Been here for ten years now and still ok.

  • Check with your local nursery. They can give you the best advice.