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Summer – we dreamed of this time when the temperature was 30 degrees and snowing.  We wanted to be outside, but the cold told us otherwise.  Now that the sun is shining, the grass is green and the flowers are blooming – we deserve to have our time in the sun, but unfortunately, summer always brings some unwanted pests to the party.  We can blame Mother Nature, but perhaps did we actually send these insects an invitation to the get together and we didn’t even realize it?

The aforementioned insects, in all reality, need what we need, shelter, food and water – pretty basic when you get down to it.  Let’s run down to the list to see if we are helping the problem or creating one.

•    Water – rain (can’t do much about that) and watering (need to keep things alive)

•    Food – plants, wood, decaying leaves or wood, plant juices

•    Shelter – moist wood, or areas that tend to retain moisture*

I placed the little “*” up in the corner as we may have found our problem, or at least one of the main ones.  Over time wood mulch begins to break down and many of us do not remove the old each year when we add the new mulch.  What eventually happens is due to heat, compaction and moisture, the mulch directly above the dirt becomes hard – so hard that water will not penetrate the layer.  So hard that to remove it you need to break it with a shovel!  This is the perfect area for insects to take control and begin building their homes.  So where does the moisture come from?  Rain soaks in and can travel some great distances – moisture is also created due to the heating and cooling of the top layer that creates condensation – as with water, it typically finds a way to where it needs, or does not need to be.

We all know that eventually I am going to talk about rubber mulch, as this is the name of the Blog and Facebook page.  But I did want to share a few more facts that many of you may find important.

The wood folks say that wood mulch does not attract termites, carpenter ants or other harmful insects.  So let’s say we are in the desert and I have a water store – I am not advertising the store, I just have it and people happen to come in and buy water?  I have something that they need to stay alive, so am I attracting them or just merely providing a necessity of life?

Let’s look at termites for a second.  Part of your “move-in” package was not a big box of termites that they released in your basement – they had to get into your house somehow.  That somehow is when most of us mulched our yard or garden right up to our foundation.  Each year termites cause more than $5 billion in damage and 1 out of every 30 homes has a termite problem – those are not good odds

There is a mulch that does not attract insects such as termites, and it is rubber mulch.  If you used rubber mulch you would not attract this insect to your home or property as the kitchen is closed so to speak.  You can mulch right up to your foundation and be assured that termites will not feast on the recycled rubber – seems like a pretty good idea to me.

In addition, rubber mulch does not compact over time so it does not create that hard under layer that can happen with improper wood mulching techniques.  Since the product does not compact water can flow down to nourish plants and trees, allowing the ground to breathe, leading to the evaporation of any excess moisture.

As I always say, the decision is yours; I am just here to point out some relevant facts that may help you make a more informed decision about your groundcover.  But if I never had to deal with termites, ants and millipedes to name a few, I may be more inclined to make the switch from wood to rubber mulch…