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We’re all too familiar with the culprits that instigate moisture or water in the basement. But for some reason, we don’t view wood mulch as a contributor. After all, we use it to control water around our yards and gardens. So, it should be good, right?

The ugly truth is that mulching near your Denver, CO, home can direct water toward your basement and attract termites. As long as wood mulch comes into contact with your home, you should brace yourself for more termite activity and a surge in soil moisture. Both are detrimental and can lead to costly repairs.

wood, mulch, and your home

Wood Mulch and Termites

Wood mulch around your home attracts termites and provides an easy access point to your home. Some people believe wood mulch also harbors these insects. That’s not true. Termites live deep down in the soil. Whenever they’re thirsty or hungry, they’ll tunnel through the soil until they get water or food.

Though termites won’t feed on the mulch, its presence creates favorable conditions for termites to start a colony. Mulch also allows termites to survive and thrive around your home. Once they get outside, these critters will head straight to your home.

If you must keep firewood or woodpiles around the home, ensure they’re 18 inches from the foundation of  your house. Keep checking them for termite activity.

Wood Mulch and Water

Whenever it rains, wood mulch soaks up rainwater, and that’s why they remain wet or damp for a long period. This might not be a problem if the heap of mulch sits far from the foundation or perimeter of your home. But if it’s close, the wood mulch will keep the soil wet. And this may attract termites looking for moist environments. Besides causing the siding to rot, this water may get into the basement and lead to mold growth and other damage. Your wall paint might peel off, floors will become cold, and the atmosphere may turn musty.

Tips for Using Wood Mulch

If you’d like to use wood mulch around your home but don’t want to attract termites or encourage basement dampness, you have to do the following:

1) Create a buffer zone. There should be a small space between the foundation and the mulch to discourage termites from digging up. You can fill this space with gravel. Also, leave six inches of space between the siding and the ground. By creating a buffer zone, you’ll stop termites from accessing your home and minimize the amount of water that gets through to your basement.

2) Stop watering your house perimeter. Ensure the strip around your house remains dry so it won’t attract termites and other pests. If you’re going to use a sprinkler, make sure water droplets don’t touch your house.

3) Control Moisture. Reduce water and moisture within your home by channeling water away from your home’s foundation using gutters and downspouts.

4) Grade your yard. Paying attention to the grading of your yard is important. The soil around your yard should slope away from your home by at least five percent so rainwater can drain away properly.

5) Keep your yard dry. Repair leaky pipes and seal water leaks so your yard remains dry. If possible, reduce the mulch to two inches. Rake it regularly until it dries completely.

6) Be Alert. Keep an eye out for termites and termite activity. Check for mud tubes and deadwood droppings. If you notice any activity, take appropriate action by contacting an exterminator.

7) Clean the gutters. Dead leaves, dirt, and debris can accumulate and prevent water flow. Water will spill over the sides into your yard. If your gutters are old, replace them with a clog-free system.

8) Landscape with care. Avoid planting garden plants or shrubbery with dense foliage close to your home.

If you’re going to use mulch, we recommend that you go for the inorganic ones, as they won’t retain water or attract termites and other pests. For more information on how you can keep your basement dry, get in touch with Complete Basement Systems.

We’re happy to provide you with a free basement waterproofing inspection and quote. Our friendly and knowledgeable experts will recommend the best fix to your water problems so your home remains dry and healthy.