Does Mulch Attract Pests?

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Why Use Mulch?

Photo Courtesy of Colorado State University Extension

We use mulch for several reasons. Firstly, it keeps your garden looking neat and clean and can help reduce the amount of weeds. It also helps keep your soil moist, acting as a barrier between the soil and the sun. This can help reduce the number of times you have to water your plants. Finally, it helps keep the temperature of the soil constant. In the winter, it holds in the heat of the ground to prevent your plants from freezing on cold nights. In the summer, it helps to keep the soil cool.

Does Mulch Attract Pests?

Mulch itself does not attract pests to your garden. Some bugs might find the mulch an appealing home but these are typically bugs that are beneficial to your plants. Centipedes and earwigs help to breakdown dead plants and fungi, replenishing the soil with nutrients.

Mulching is also important around trees. See above photo for proper technique. Photo Courtesy of Virginia Extension

Many people are worried about termites when they are considering wood mulch. Termites are not attracted to mulch itself so if termites are in your garden, they were most likely there before the mulch. That being said, over-mulching is the most common cause of unwanted garden pests. A layer of mulch, regardless of type, should never be more than 3” deep. When mulch is too deep, it can retain too much water and allow for fungus and mold to grow. In addition, termites need high levels of moisture to live and cannot be exposed to fresh air for long periods of time. A layer of mulch that is 2-3” deep does not have the ability hold enough moisture for termites, in most cases. However, deeper layers of mulch can provide the right environment for termites.  If you are worried about termites, use a rake to periodically aerate the mulch and be sure to not make a mound out of the mulch near any wood structures.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a free estimate, email us or call our office at 407-935-9151.