a new twist on landscape design. While you're out getting your hands dirty in
the yard, and puzzling over what looks best where, have you ever considered the
termite factor? You could be making your home extra-appealing and accessible to
hungry hordes of termites, according to The Washington Post. That's especially
worrisome this year in many parts of the country that experienced a mild winter
followed by a wet spring--perfect termite conditions.
The first step in
termite-proof landscaping is to avoid planting close to the foundation. Dead growth
on shrubs and trees attract termites. They love cellulose, the main ingredient
in plant matter, which means any kind of wood--especially pines, oaks and maples,
followed by evergreens. But don't give them anything to munch on. Don't plant
anything close to the house, even ground cover. Keep a safety margin of at least
Mulch also can be a problem, forming a nice layer of delectable,
decomposing termite food. It may look great but it only takes one wet season for
mulch to biodegrade into termite fodder. Use harder, inedible alternatives such
as rock or flagstone. Place tightly-butted flagstones around the base of the home,
or a heavy-gauge plastic sheet covered by rocks.
Remember, in addition to
food, the other thing termites need is a ready source of moisture. Make sure the
ground slopes away from the foundation to carry off excess rainwater. That's also
a basic precaution for avoiding unwanted leaks or moisture in the basement.
If your home has received a termite treatment from a pest control company in recent
years, you'll also want to avoid deep digging around the foundation. The main
principle of termite treatment is creating a barrier of pesticide-treated soil
that prevents termites from reaching the house. Termite treatments can remain
effective for 10-20 years but not if the barrier is disturbed by deep digging
or earth-moving near the foundation.
Large trees should not be any closer
than 20 feet because the extensive root system and tree stump are enough to form
a highway to your home, although some controversy exists over whether the termites
are too preoccupied munching the tree to bother with another food source. Of course,
you may not have any choice about tree placement anyway if a stately oak or maple
already stands next to your home. It's just one of the many considerations in
placing new trees.