Bugs love mulches and so do the termites.
Choose the wrong mulch and you’ll have termites waiting right at your doorstep to invade your home.
But there are mulches that termites avoid.
These mulches are termite repellers.
Not only that.
Given the chemical composition of these mulches, they stop all types of bugs like ants, centipedes, and cockroaches from hiding underneath them.
In this guide, you’ll find out five best mulch to avoid termites.
Using these mulches will keep your yard and garden free from termites.
A termite-free yard and garden reduces the possibility of termite infestation in homes.
Does Mulch Attract Termites?
Yes, certain types of mulch do attract termites.
Before you get into what mulches keep termites away, it’s important for you to know what mulches attract termites.
Knowing these mulches will help you avoid choosing the wrong mulch.
The mulches that attract termites either have nitrogen and phosphorous in them or cellulose.
Both these conditions are essential requirements for the termites to survive.
As you know, choose the wrong mulch around your home, and you’ll expose your home to termite invasion.
So, here are the mulches that attract termites –
Pine Straw Mulch Attract Termites
Many people disagree that pine straw mulch attracts termites.
They’re right, but to a certain extent.
Termites do avoid pine straw mulch. But pine straw mulch traps the moisture in the soil making the soil more moist.
And what does a moist soil do?
A damp soil, with pine straw mulch covering it, is a perfect place for the termites to establish their colonies.
It causes the termites to take shelter underneath the mulch’s layer.
Through these nests, termites build tunnels.
Termites use these tunnels to commute looking for new sources of food.
And those tunnels often end up in your home.
On top of that, there are studies showing that pine straw mulch attracts termites.
Plus, many people also ignore the inflammability of pine straw mulches.
They catch fire quite fast and the fire can spread pretty quickly.
Pine Bark Mulch Attract Termites
Like the pine straw mulch, pine bark mulch also attracts termites.
But keep in mind that termites don’t eat the pine bark mulch and pine straw mulch.
It provides them a nesting place and an opportunity to build their tunnels.
Despite being low in cellulose (cellulose is a basic nutritional need for termites) these mulches act like a bridge between the yard and your home.
If pine straw mulch and pine bark mulch are close to your home’s foundation, then termites will use them to invade your home.
And both have high nitrogen and phosphorous that makes it appealing for termites.
Also, as both pine straw mulch and pine bark mulch retain moisture, they can also attract ants.
And ants eat termites.
So, using these mulches will not only expose your home to a termite infestation threat, but also to an ant invasion.
You certainly don’t want either of them.
Softwood Mulch Attract Termites
Most softwood mulch attracts termites, except one, which you’ll find out in a minute.
Softwood mulches are high in cellulose that termites eat to survive.
Two common softwood mulches that many homeowners use are firewood mulch and all types of pine wood mulch, especially loblolly and slash pine mulch.
Use these two mulches and it’s for certain that these mulches will attract termites, especially when there’s termite infestation in your neighborhood.
You’ll given an open invitation to termites to invade your home and yard.
Firewood chips and pine wood chips have high levels of cellulose and moisture that termites eat and need to survive.
But remember that termites can’t survive on mulch for long. They need a more significant source of nutrition to live and multiply.
So, if you’ve got the wrong mulch in your yard or garden, then it’s only a matter of time that termites will infest your home.
Best Mulch To Avoid Termites
Now that you know what mulches attract termites, it’s time to reveal the list of best mulches to avoid termites.
These mulches show their resistance for months against termites.
One of these mulches looks so gorgeous that it’ll give your yard or garden a unique pretty look.
So, here are the 3 best mulch to avoid termites –
- Cedar Mulch
- Cypress Heartwood Mulch
- Melaleuca Mulch
- Licorice Root Mulch
- Redwood Mulch
All the above four mulches have anti-fungal properties that makes them termite resistant mulches
Also, all types of bugs like ants, centipedes, roaches, and crickets that can live in the mulch avoid these mulches.
On top of that, cedar mulch, cypress heartwood mulch, and melaleuca mulch are hardwood mulches.
Hardwood mulches contain resins that termites avoid.
All the the four mulches also deter termites to build nests underneath them.
Let’s take a deep dive in each of these mulches.
Termites Avoid Cedar Mulch
Cedar mulch is the byproduct of the cedar tree. It has thujone, a natural chemical in it that keeps termites away.
It’s the most expensive mulch on our list.
Cedar mulch lasts for 5-7 years. It makes your garden and yard look beautiful because it’s naturally reddish.
All these qualities make the cedar mulch is a real value for money.
On top of repelling termites and bugs, cedar mulch improves the quality of the soil.
Cedar mulch also maintains a suitable temperature of the soil aiding plants’ growth.
There’s a myth that as cedar mulch takes years to decay and don’t let nitrogen to get in the soil, it is harmful for plants.
As mentioned, it’s a myth.
University of Missouri did a study that proved that cedar mulch have no negative effects on plants.
Termites Avoid Cypress Heartwood Mulch
Now here’s a catch.
If you use a normal cypress mulch, it’ll attract termites.
It’s because cypress mulch contains sapwood. That sapwood contains cellulose, which, as you know, termites love.
So, instead of choosing cypress mulch, choose cypress heartwood mulch.
Just like the cedar mulch, cypress heartwood mulch comes with termite repelling ant-fungal property.
The antifungal property works wonders not only in keeping termites away but also many other bugs and insects.
Being a hardwood mulch, cypress heartwood mulch takes at least 3-4 years to breakdown.
That gives your home and yard long enough protection against termites. And on top of it, you’ll love the fragrance of cypress heartwood mulch.
Termites Avoid Melaleuca Mulch
Melaleuca mulch is an excellent alternative to both cedar and cypress heartwood mulch if you’re under budget.
It’s also hardwood mulch.
But there’s a smell that comes out from melaleuca mulch that you might not like.
The best part of melaleuca mulch is that it lasts for 2-3 years before it decays.
Melaleuca mulch comes from the melaleuca tree. It’s not native to the US, and it’s brought in from Australia.
Found all over in Florida swamps, melaleuca trees grow rampantly. That’s why it’s also known as Florimulch.
The easy availability of Florimulch makes it cheaper.
But before you buy melaleuca mulch, make sure that it doesn’t contain any seeds and it’s adequately composted.
Else, you may have a wild growth of Melaleuca trees in your yard.
Termites Avoid Licorice Root Mulch
Licorice root mulch is steamed and grated root of licorice tree.
Licorice tree is native to Central Asia. It made it’s way to the US in the 1940s.
Licorice mulch is a proven pest repelling mulch because of it’s anti-artillery fungus property.
That keeps the termites away.
It also contains 13 nutrients for plants that makes it excellent for plants’ growth. On top of that, licorice mulch also maintains the soil’s carbon-to-nitrogen ratio which is critical for plants’ growth.
Termites Avoid Redwood Mulch
The only softwood mulch making to the list of best mulch to avoid termites is the redwood mulch.
Like the cypress mulch, the redwood mulch also contains resins that repel termites.
Redwood mulch decay in 1-3 years. So, it doesn’t have as much life as the other hardwood mulches in the list have.
But it’s certainly cheaper than the hardwood mulch. And if you don’t mind changing mulch in your yard or garden often, then you can go for redwood mulch.
Why Termites Avoid These Mulches?
All types of termites make tunnels in the soil or in the wood to commute.
Termites bore through the wood, eating it from inside. Termites are dependent on the moisture and cellulose in the wood that is their life source.
The mulches in the list lack both moisture and cellulose, and given the natural chemicals they have, these mulches repel termites.
Also, mulches, being wood chips, don’t provide them enough space to make long tunnels to commute.
So, these best mulches are neither nutritious nor worth drilling in for the termites.
How To Lay Mulch Around Your Home’s Foundation To Avoid Termites?
Now that you know what mulch termites avoid and why it’s time to learn the tricks to lay the mulch.
If you lay the mulch wrong, then the mulches that repel termites won’t be as effective as they should be.
But thankfully, laying mulch around your home’s foundation in your yard or garden is a cakewalk.
Here’s how to do it.
Dig half an inch to an inch deep ditch around your home’s foundation or on the places where you want to lay the mulch.
If you’re planning to lay the mulch around your home’s foundation, ensure that it’s at least a foot away from the foundation’s perimeter.
That’ll prevent termites and bugs from using the mulch as a bridge to get inside your home.
Scatter termite granules in the ditch and water it.
Termite granules work by sinking into the soil and killing any termites underneath the soil’s layer.
Termite granules remain active for at least 6-9 months, thereby making it impossible for the termites to make any nests in and around your home’s foundation and yard.
Savvy homeowners always use termite granules around their home’s foundation.
And finally, fill the ditch with any one of the mulches in the list.
How To Treat Termites In Mulch In Two Steps
What if you’re using the wrong mulch and there are termites in the mulch?
In this section, you’ll get to know how to get rid of termites in mulch before you replace it with one of the mulches in the list.
Generally, mulches are spread across a few inches (2-3 inches) deep in the soil, making them a perfect habitat for termites and other pests.
And termites in your yard or garden are just a few days away from your home unless you get rid of them.
Before we get into killing termites in mulch, let’s have a look at the signs of termites in the mulch. If you see these signs, then it’s for you to act fast.
- Live Termites In Mulch – Physical sightings of termites in mulch are a clear indication of their presence. Just scatter the mulch a bit, and if there are termites underneath the mulches’ layer, then you’ll see them crawling.
- Piles Of Mud In Mulch – Termites do make little mud hills on mulches. These mud hills can also be around a tree. The presence of mud hills is a clear sign of subterranean termites in your yard.
- Dead Termites – If you see dead termites in your yard or garden, then it’s a two-fold sign of both termite and ants’ presence. Ants eat termites, and there must be a battle going on between termites and ants in your yard.
- Mud Tubes – Subterranean termites build mud tubes using their saliva and soil on rigid structures like walls, ceilings, or timber to reach their food source. Mud tubes rising from the ground where you’ve kept the mulches are a significant sign of termite infestation.
Now that you know the signs of termites infestation in mulch, it’s time to get rid of them.
But while getting rid of them, you need to make sure that you’re not compromising the soils’ quality. If you have a garden, you sure wouldn’t want to do that.
So, don’t use chemical pesticides on the mulch to remove termites. It’ll strip the soil of its nutrients that your plants need to grow.
Instead, there are some natural ways to get rid of termites from mulch, and they work well too.
Here are the two steps that you can use right now to get rid of termites in mulch –
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth On The Mulch To Kill The Termites
Food grade diatomaceous earth works best when getting rid of termites and other bugs from the soil and mulch.
Diatomaceous earth pierces the skin of termites, soaks the moisture out, causing a rapid death in termites.
To make things worse for termites, diatomaceous earth sticks on termites’ bodies. And when a termite with diatomaceous earth goes back to its nest, it spread to other termites.
Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe for plants, you, your pets, and children.
You can also use boric acid instead of diatomaceous earth.
All you need to do is mix one teaspoon of boric acid with one cup of hot water.
If your yard or garden is big, then you’ll need more than one cup of water. It’d be best to keep the composition the same – one teaspoon for every cup of hot water.
Spray the mixture on the mulch with termites. Boric acid kills the termites by dehydrating them, and termites can’t survive the hot water.
Boric acid is also safe for the soil. It’s naturally found in the soil too.
But if you use an excessive amount of boric acid or borax in the mixture, then it can damage the soil.
So, it’d be best for the soil if you keep the recommended composition – one teaspoon for every cup of hot water.
To make this process effective, you’d need to spray the mixture of boric acid and hot water twice for three days in the mulch to kill the termites.
As an alternative, use can use borax, too, instead of boric acid.
Use Nematodes To Kill Any Surviving Termites
Nematodes are tiny roundworms that enter the termites’ bodies and kill them.
Nematodes are natural insect and termite killers, and they don’t damage the quality of the soil.
They are readily available. All you’ve to do is sprinkle nematodes on the mulch area infested by termites and let it do its work.
The five best mulches to avoid termites in your yard or garden are cedar mulch, cypress heartwood mulch, and melaleuca mulch, licorice root mulch, and redwood mulch.
Cedar wood mulch, cypress heartwood mulch, and melaleuca mulch are hardwood mulches, and they last longer than any other mulches.
If you use firewood or pine wood chips as mulch, they attract termites instead of repelling them.
Both firewood and pine wood are rich in moisture and cellulose that termites feed on to survive.
In this guide, you learned why these mulches repel termites. And how to use these mulches, correctly.
Remember subterranean termites gain access to your home from underground.
And most of the times, the source of termites to your home is your yard.
To know more about it, read our post on signs of termites in yard.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.