Well, we know it's that time of year again. We have had a few weeks of rain in the Bi-State St. Louis area. Here in Belleville and surrounding neighborhoods I see everyone mowing lawns and putting down those fresh applications of mulch. Growing flowers and celebrating Mother's Day, just how spring should be! But I would like to offer some tips and treatment plans to make your outdoor landscape applications looking beautiful as well as beneficial for your homes' foundation and protection.
Renewing mulch beds are great for select plants and florals that require a substrate to block heat from the sun as well as absorb water from rain and sprinkler systems to get them through the hottest of days. However, this also creates an environment for insects and thier own ecosystem. A variety of spiders; which are often of no threat to humans; love to set up shop in mulch beds because it's a great source of food from all different larvae and live prey for themselves and to lay a good clutch of eggs. From ants to termites, all of these insects have a common balance on the pyramid.
What we don't want is to create an environment against the foundation for there to be an influx or imbalance. This typically starts at the mechanical level when mulch mounds can be too high to allow proper water runoff from down spouts, or just simply a bad grade from the under soils. If you have buried downspouts that are creating erosion or in heavy rains you may encounter spongy or 'bubbly' ground. This is called liquifaction. Water run-off is essentially transforming that particular area of your yard into a waterbed. So you may need ot extend those underground downspouts out further and install a proper valve that opens. It will depend on your soil layers. If you have low or no clay content, you can install small gravel and lay more downspout line with holes that will filter down into the soil.
Mulch does breakdown. And as a natural decomposer of plant material there will always be worms, grubs (beetle larvae), serveral types of larvae, ant varieties, orthropods (pillbugs), wood insects such as roaches and carpenter ants and carpenter bees. Wood is a vital source for many insect species since; in the wild; like a rain forest for example, it's this all over times ten thousand.
So a good tip when getting new mulch laid. Inspect your foundation for ANY types of cracks. It only takes less than 1/32 of an inch crack for termites or other wood destroying organisms to make entry into your foundation. If you have wood or vinyl siding you want to ensure that siding is not touching the ground or the mulch finished layer. It's a good measure to ensure you have at least 4 inches from your finished muclh or landscape layer up to the siding. This simply makes inspection easier to spot cracks or mudtubes from termites.
Another tip I can share is that if you have not applied new mulch, you can always apply a granuale or a chemical application with an IGR (insect growth regulator) included, onto the old mulch landscape. If you use this method, then make sure that you can get the new mulch application applied on top of the treatment within 48 hours. This is because adding that new layer will protect the granule or chemical from sunlight and the elements, therefore making them more effective and bonding to the soild in a more synergystic way.
"But I already have my new mulch down, now what?!"
Don't let this be a frustration. If you are at this step, then you simply want to focus on your foundation up to six inches out. However, you do not need to dig down far like making a trench for termite treatment. Just 2 or 3 inches is fine. Then apply a granule or chemical application according to the label if you are doing a DIY treatment. Even though you are applying these chemical(s) to your own property, please always read the label. The label is federal law, but it is more for your own health and protection to follow the specifics. Once you have made the application, you would backfill your mulch or soil and it will have the same benefits with being protected from the elements.
I wrote this blog, because I was inspired by one of my clients, as they are in a gardening group and have aquired several awards in their community for maintaining such property. I was delighted when they requested my services again this season to eliminate voles on their property. I take pride in my work, and I enjoy working in the outdoors and being part of my clients achievements. I'll actually be fast-tracking this article to them and I hope they benefit from it as much as you do.
I am a solo owner operator in the Belleville, IL area and metro Bi-State St Louis region. My company is JM Pest Solutions LLC. If you found this article useful and a good read then please pay it forward for free. You honestly never know who you'll meet on your morning walk or coffee run. Take care, and until next time. Be safe and Godbless.