I was thinking about composting leaves in my back yard this fall and using the composted leaves as fertilizer around my house in the spring based on other recommendations on this site. I am in Northeast Ohio.

However, I do not wish to provide any attraction for termites to a wooden fence that sits about 5 feet away nor to the garden beds around my home if there are some bits of not fully decomposed leaves that would potentially be an attractant for termites.

Note: I no longer mulch in the flower beds against my house because of a recent horror story about extensive subterranean termite damage to a relatives home where the termites were most likely attracted to the home by the mulch she put out every year.

  • Where do you live?
    – kevinskio
    Oct 19, 2016 at 18:00
  • The problem with termites is probably the fact that you have plant beds against the house to start with. You should not have any plant beds within 600mm (minimum) of the building envelope.
    – Viv
    Oct 24, 2016 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


Termites eat WOOD, plastics and some papers coated with asparic acid? Organic matter like leaves, grass clippings are not what termites normally eat. Have you seen termites? Do you know what they would (wood) look like? What else did your neighbors/friends say about termites?

Decomposing leaves, herbaceous debris, compost is not an attractant for termites unless there is a lot of wood products in a big pile. Thinning, turning the compost or spreading it thinly helps to further deter termite attraction.

I've been involved with gardening, composting, maintenance on other people's home for more decades than I care to advertise, grins. I've never had termite problems. Of course there are termites, they only love wood, cellulose, paper if coated with a certain acid and PLASTIC?!

If you are more worried about termites than the health of your soil and plants then maybe a condominium is in your future. If you want to learn about the world outside your home do not be deterred by horror stories of termites. Compost those leaves (were you the one with the pile of leaves by his fence)? or spread them thinly over your plant beds and you will be doing a favor for your soil, the living organisms that share your property with you and take care of disease, insects FOR YOU and for FREE. This is how one feeds the micro and macro organisms that are vital to the health of soil, plants, the little ecosystem surrounding your home.

Termites are not that big of a deal unless one is just not alert/aware of what is happening around them. They are also a very cool insect for decomposing downed trees, their social community is amazing and I JUST LEARNED they eat plastic??? I've got to go look into that a bit more, my goodness! I think those that have had problems with termites are those that because they got involved with an aspect of life they have little knowledge about. Then they willynilly hired a pesticide company to KILL EVERYTHING. To include all the beneficial insects/micro, macro organisms who have been protecting your home and plants and soil all along. Using pesticide that are usually non-specific to 'sterilize' ones home and yard is more of a problem than anything else to promote an insect population to numbers that can cause costly problems.

Spraying pesticide is far worse and more than likely to cause more headache, loss of value and money than worrying about attracting termites by composting dead debris. By far.

Garden debris is a normal, healthy on going process. To gather it all up and take it to a dump is allowing someone else to benefit from this GOLD. Then you have to purchase bags of the same stuff you threw away, gave away.

Check out the trees in your neighborhood, dead or dying trees are not only dangerous but THEY are the largest attractant for termites.


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