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How to Avoid Attracting Pests When Using Mulch Around a Building

Bark mulches, leaf litter, and similar organic materials around the foundation of a building can lead to pest problems. Mulch traps moisture which attracts insects and other pests, including termites. And not only can termites feed on many kinds of mulch, but mulch built up against a foundation wall allows the termites to bypass a termite treatment barrier place in the soil. But there are things you can do to minimize pest problems from mulch:


  • Do not pile mulch against the foundation wall. Mulch provides a protected route for termites to bypass the barrier placed in the soil. Leave a 6-12 inch bare stretch of soil next to the foundation. If you wish, place landscape cloth in this area to keep down weeds, then leave the strip bare or cover it with a thin layer of sand, gravel dust, crushed stone, or pea gravel.
  • Deeply piled mulch can trap moisture for long periods. Keep your small textured mulch depth to no more than 2-3 inches after watering. Pine bark and other coarse mulches can be as deep as 4 inches, since they allow more air circulation.
  • Keep moisture near the foundation to a minimum. Make sure that irrigation systems are not soaking this area. Check that drainpipes, downspouts, and spigots are not keeping mulch wet close to the building. If so, use splash blocks and extend downspouts away from the building.

I found termites in my mulch!  Does my house need to be treated?

No. A termite treatment only kills termites feeding on or near the house, and then creates a barrier around and under the house to prevent new termites from getting inside. Termites are commonly found in mulch. Even when they are found in mulch right next to the foundation, the house does not require retreatment, unless the termites have also gotten inside. Termites are a natural component of the landscape and can be found throughout almost any yard. Vulcan Pest Control can help you avoid attracting pests.

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