Mulch Types and Bugs

Spring has sprung, next week it’s going to seem like summer. As termite and pest control professionals, we are commonly asked about mulch. Now that it’s time to plant and trim shrubs and trees, it’s also time to spruce up the flower beds and gardens around our homes. Well, mulch is a big choice not only for appearance but cost as well. The options are many and the cost very great. Rubber and stone cost the most whereas pine straw and bark need to be replaced annually. Free mulch is really not a very good deal if it’s going to be placed near or around your home. So here is the rundown as a bug man sees it:

  • Pine straw – cheap and readily available, ants like pine straw because fungus grows easily under pine straw. Needs replacing annually.
  • Pine bark – Cost a little bit more than pine straw, looks good. But if you buy in bulk there will be a lot of wood mixed in with the bark. Termites have been known to eat pine bark and the wood mixed in.  Needs to be replaced about every two years.
  • Cypress– I like this choice because it looks good, has a moderate cost and termites don’t care for cypress. Cypress lasts for two to three years and the heavy oil content of the wood protects it from pests. A word of caution; don’t buy cypress blend, this is mostly hard wood mulch mixed in.
  • Hardwood-stained mulch – Cost even more than pine bark and the color last about one year. Some landscape companies have tried to re-stain but… Termites will infest these areas after the chemical stain has dissipated.
  • Free hardwood mulch– please avoid placing free ground up wood around and close to the foundation of you home, remember we like to protect homes from termites. This is a good option in the natural areas in the back of the yard and landscape islands away from the foundation.
  • Rocks, stones, and lava stone – These look really good and last for years and years with minor maintenance. Just keep the trash picked up and blow the leaves and pine needles out when needed. Termites do not like crushed rock.
  • Rubber mulch or Shredded and stained tires – Looks good and can be expensive. This option lasts for many years and needs to be maintained similarly to rock and stone. Just remember rubber mulch when it’s new will smell like rubber also may smell like rubber again on hot days.

Just remember if you live in a subdivision to refer to the HOA by-laws so we don’t cause any problems with the neighbors.