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Anti Bug Mulches

Mulching your garden encourages moisture conservation, cool soil temperatures and reduced weed infestations. From stones to bark, mulches are available in shredded, chipped and nugget forms. A number of wood-based mulches attract bugs and other pests, however. Finding an appropriate anti-bug mulch requires consideration of organic and inorganic materials to match your landscape's appearance, from formal to casual.
  1. Nonvascular Organic Selections

    • Wood chips are automatic attractants for bugs, especially termites. But you can still use tree-based mulches, like pine bark, that do not have vascular systems. Plant vascular systems move moisture and nutrients between the roots and foliage; this system is commonly made of cellulose molecules. Many bugs, including termites, need cellulose for sustenance. Using bark as mulch deprives bugs of their main food source and forces them to forage elsewhere. Other nonvascular mulches are available, including cocoa shell, coffee bean husks and peat moss.

    Inorganic Choices

    • Stones, sand, rubber and gravel are all anti-bug mulches that provide an aesthetic appeal when spread under trees or shrubs. Because of their inorganic nature, bugs look elsewhere for their food source. One major drawback to inorganic mulch is its permanency. Although you do not need to replace it periodically like organic mulch, your soil also does not benefit from any new decaying nutrient-rich matter. If you need to amend your soil with organic material, the inorganic mulch must be raked away and reinstalled after you tend to your garden. If you have a large bug problem, however, this extra step may be worth the extra effort for a healthy garden.

    Mulch Application and Moisture

    • Even the best nonvascular organic mulch can attract bugs if it is applied incorrectly. For example, mulch spread to a 6-inch depth cannot evaporate water efficiently after rain or irrigation; the soil below may not receive the water at all as it is suspended in the mulch. As a result, the mulch becomes a wet haven for bugs to hide and flourish within. Proper mulch application should only be between 2 and 2.5 inches deep. This spreading strategy allows water to move down into the soil and evaporate normally from the ground for reduced bug invasions.

    Considering Plastic

    • If you raise crops, like strawberries (Fragaria spp.), spraying copious amounts of pesticides across your garden raises healthy concerns when you eat the fruits. Aside from inorganic and organic mulches, another anti-bug mulch includes specialized silver plastic. You spread this mulch, which is similar to black plastic, across the garden and punch holes into the material for your crops to grow into the sun. The silver coating provides sunlight reflection that actually confuses and prevents certain bugs, such as aphids, from visiting the garden. With proper installation, your soil remains viable and moist for prolific plant growth.