Spring is a favorite time to get some work done in the garden; but it’s also a popular time for termite activity.
If you’re setting aside some time to pull weeds and plant perennials in your garden, make sure you’re keeping these smart landscaping tips in mind to prevent termites from gaining easy access to your home.
Don’t: Breach the Barrier
Most preventative termite measures involve building a chemical barrier on the soil surrounding your home, forming an invisible line that prevents subterranean termites from tunneling into the soil and entering your structure.
If you’re working with a professional pest control company for preventative termite control, this soil should be considered unusable! If you dig into it for planting purposes or add more soil on top, you’ll compromise the barrier around your home and increase the risk of termite damage to your home.
A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to avoid planting within 8 inches out from your home’s slab.
Don’t: Let Branches Touch the House
Planting close to your home doesn’t just disrupt surface-level protective barriers – it can also increase your risk of termite infestation by creating a route straight to your home for pests.
As shrubs or vines grow alongside your house and come into contact with your siding, they begin acting as a bridge for hungry termites. All it takes is a small crack or patch of damaged siding to invite pests directly into your home. Planting too close to your home can also make it difficult for pest control technicians to closely inspect those areas for termite activity.
If there are already shrubs next to your home, make sure that you’re keeping branches and leaves trimmed away from your exterior. If you’re still planning out your landscape, plant three feet or more from the edge to allow for enough room to grow.
As an added bonus, shrubs located further from your house will benefit from better light and air circulation.
Do: Mulch Wisely
Mulch makes for an excellent ground cover for shrubs and flower beds; but they also come with certain risks when used directly next to your home.
When most people think about mulch, they usually envision wood-based products (like wood chips or chunked bark,) which are all filled with the cellulose that termites like to munch on. Some mulches are treated with chemicals that make them less appealing to termites, but these chemicals break down over time or leach into the soil, leaving your home at risk.
Avoid using wood mulches in beds beside your house. Instead, choose a low- or no-cellulose ground cover like:
- Pine straw
- Rubber mulches
- Gravel or rocks
Placement of mulch matters, too! Never apply mulch on top of or directly next to the slab or piers of your home. Instead, leaving an 8-12 inch barrier out from your siding before you start using mulch. (If you’re planting the proper distance from your structure, you shouldn’t need mulch closer than that!)
Do: Mind the Moisture
While subterranean termites enter your home from the soil, formosan subterranean termites prefer to sneak in using damp wood. This is why it’s incredibly important to keep an eye on ways that your backyard might be harboring excess moisture, making your home more vulnerable to termite infestations.
A backed up or leaky gutter overflows when it rains, wetting the wood along your roofline. You might be vigilant about the protection on the ground, but if clogged gutters are keeping the wood at the top of your home damp, a colony can find their way indoors there and bypass your soil barrier entirely.
Don’t: Let Your Landscaping Increase Your Risk of Infestation
It is possible to have a beautiful landscape without putting your home at increased risk of termite damage. With some careful planning and care, you can design a yard that you can enjoy that won’t invite termites in.