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I plan on using mulch for the first time starting next year so I've been looking up you tube videos regarding the topic to get me started. So far, wood chips is what tops the list of all the people that I've watched. However, there was this one comment that left me with alot of questions . Somebody wrote down that "over here in Australia, using wood chips as mulch is like creating a feasting ground for termites. Best to stay away from it." I wanted to know why that was the case so i left a comment of my own but the individual won't reply back. what could be the reason? Are termites just part of the deal when using wood chips or does it have something to do with the soil or just Australia in general?

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    I guess termites are just part of the deal in Australia. Like kangaroos. If you don't have them in your country, they won't magically appear from nowhere. – alephzero Dec 14 '19 at 2:55
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    Don't mean to make light of Australia, but given the current fire season, using wood chips or bark as mulch next to a house seems to be just adding fuel to a potential fire. – Jurp Dec 14 '19 at 16:18
  • @alephzero_ okay but i do get alot of ants in my garden. Especially around the base of my trees and other perennials cause the soil is usually moist under there. A few of them aren't a cause for concern but too many end up ruining the entire root system altogether. Question is, will i be inviting more ants to dig down in my garden by creating more moisture in the soil through the use of wood chips? – Hamid Sabir Dec 14 '19 at 23:06
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    put some Cordyceps Militaris in the wood chips, and your house will be avoided – black thumb Dec 15 '19 at 14:41
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    Are you hoping to do some kind of 'fruit tree guild' or a 'back to Eden' garden? If so that would change the answer because the mulch would become a biologically active part of the ecosystem as opposed to just a layer to prevent the soil from drying out. – Rick Dec 17 '19 at 21:09
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What you use for mulch often depends more on what is available then what is best for an area or region you live. Any ground cover you put down, no matter what it is will help hold moisture into the ground. It often cuts down on weeds as well, since weeds seeds need soil or some kind of grow medium to germinate and grow.

Go with what is most easily available in your area that is natural. Avoid synthetic materials like recycled rubber tires. Those will just release toxins into your soil. You want something that will naturally break down like bark mulch or something that does not break down like gravel.

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  • Umm. The thing is, as crazy as it sounds, nobody knows what mulch is in my area. Not even my local nursery. I tried explaining the whole concept of it and the reaction i got was similar to what you'd get if one were to say " I've come from the future". They hysterically laughed at me like i was some sort of an idiot. So it's not a matter of what's easily availabe here but more of what i can pile up and who knows what kind of fungus or disease i might bring along with me. So good luck to me i guess. – Hamid Sabir Dec 14 '19 at 23:05
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    You don't have to use a wood mulch, you could just spread a nice layer of compost on top of the soil each year. What is popular in my area is putting down a layer of leaf mulch each spring. It breaks down over the season working its way into the soil. By, next spring its time to add more again. Leaf mulch is just partially composted leaves and debris. The plants love it. It sells out early each year. You can also use an inorganic matter like gravel. It will keep moisture in as well as any wood product. It's just harder to clean up if you change your mind. – GardenGems Dec 15 '19 at 0:05
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Termites like to live under any mulch, not just wood chips or bark.Thought I'd include a quote from Terminix, a termite-removal company:

...mulch used for landscaping keeps the environment moist. This is one of the benefits of mulch, as this moisture is great for growing shrubs, flowers, trees, etc. But termites also love this moisture, as do a variety of other bugs and insects. The moist environment encourages termites to explore the area by digging thin tunnels and looking for food (i.e., wood). The mulch provides cover for this exploration. So while the termites might not actually feed on the mulch, the presence of it certainly can provide better conditions for a termite colony to start, or continue to develop. A better way to look at the attraction issue would be to conclude that mulch increases a termite's ability to survive around your home if they are already present.

This author is including landscape fabric as well as anything you put on landscape factor, along with wood and bark chips, as potential termite homes. You can basically find this same sentiment from a ton of other sources. Essentially, termites act like centipedes under mulch unless/until they find a wall to climb.

A couple of sources I've seen recommend keeping a 12" or so bare strip of soil next to the foundation as a "dead zone". The idea is to try very hard to not water this strip if you water your garden so that it stays as dry as possible. Not only does this dryness help suppress weeds, but it also deters termites from exploring closer to your home. Even with this barrier, though, you should also periodically look for mud tunnels up the side of your foundation, as this is how termites will enter your house.

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  • Interesting. Makes sense to leave a bare strip of soil between your garden and your house but what about trees or other woody plants you might have in your garden? Termites wont cause any damage to them, will they? – Hamid Sabir Dec 14 '19 at 23:06
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    I believe that wood-eating termites (other termites eat grasses and other plants) eat dead wood rather than live trees, so any healthy trees should be okay. – Jurp Dec 15 '19 at 0:11

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