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Can You Mulch Your Landscaping and Avoid Insect Infestations?

When the weather gets warmer, laying mulch in your yard is often a priority. But as you get ready to conquer this task, a neighbour tells you she spread mulch on her property and struggled with a terrible carpenter ant infestation. And she knows somebody who has had the same experience with termites. Is it true? And more importantly, should you be worried?

Mulch serves a variety of purposes, like fighting weeds, retaining soil moisture and giving your property a clean look. Laying mulch doesn’t automatically equal carpenter ant or termite infestations, but there are some points that can help you mitigate the risk.

Why carpenter ants and termites flock to mulch

Carpenter ants are problematic because they burrow through wood to build nests and establish colonies. This process is helpful in the wild, creating a rich compost that generates new growth. In residential areas, however, it becomes an issue. As carpenter ants chew and hollow out wood, it can cause extensive structural damage to your home.

Termites are similar in that they serve a real purpose in the wild. These insects break down wood and add much-needed nutrients to soil. But around the home, termites can create similar damage as carpenter ants. They can even chew on furniture.

You can minimize the risk of infestation by taking steps to safeguard your home when using mulch.

Protecting your home

You don’t need to avoid mulch altogether to avoid unwanted insects. Instead, it’s best to choose measures that make your yard and home a less inviting place for insects to take up residence. Here are four tips to consider:

  1. Use gravel. Place a layer of gravel next to your home. This creates a barrier and keeps insects away.
  2. Keep mulch thin. Mulch depth might seem like an aesthetic consideration. However, it’s critical to ensure that mulch is no more than three inches deep. Mulch that is too deep creates an attractive home for carpenter ants and termites.
  3. Carefully select landscape borders. The borders that you select to frame your landscaping have an impact on future infestations. Railroad ties, for example, are an attractive place for insects to take up residence close to your home. Instead, select borders made from stone materials.
  4. Pay attention to shady areas. Shade is great, but not when it comes to insect prevention. Shady areas tend to remain moist attracting carpenter ants and termites. If you must put mulch in shady areas, create thin layers to detour infestation.

When the weather warms and you spend more time outdoors, it’s critical to consider not only the aesthetic appeal of your home, but also any potential risks. Avoiding an insect infestation, especially carpenter ants and termites, should be a priority.

Understanding your insurance, its limitations and exclusions relative to insect damage is also key to protecting your home. Reach out to your insurance broker who can guide you in taking proactive steps to better understand your current coverage.