Which Mulch Is Best for Repelling Bugs?

Mulch is an essential component in gardening. It is used to suppress weeds, help the soil retain moisture and to reduce erosion due to rain and wind. Additionally, as organic mulch decays, it provides helpful nutrients into the soil, improving microbial activity as well as improving the general health of your plants. When selecting mulch for your garden landscape, then you will find an overwhelming amount of choices. While all mulches have pros and cons, some mulch types benefit your crops by deterring unwanted insects.

Organic Mulches

Mulch is split in to two categories, organic and inorganic mulches. Organic mulches are byproducts of organic sources, like grass, bark, leaf, leaves or nut shells. Inorganic mulches are generally man-made products such as plastic or rubber, or inert materials like stones. Of the two, organic mulches are better for repelling bugs. As organic mulches break them down, they raise the chemistry of the soil, thereby raising the amount of helpful bacteria, insects and fungi. Helpful insects maintain residents of harmful, plant-destroying insects at bay. It ought to be noted that some organic mulches, like compost, attract certain insects such as saw bugs, earwigs or pill bugs. But these bugs are easily controlled and eliminated with organic insecticides.

Cedar and Cypress

Bark or chip mulches made from cedar or cypress trees are helpful for repelling insects. Both cedar and cypress wood contain natural oils and substances like thujone that discourage bugs. According to Washington State University, cedar chips repel, kill or may inhibit insects such as termites, cockroaches, cloth-eating moths, carpet beetles and certain ants like ordorous and Argentine. Spread cedar or cypress mulch around your lawn or landscape plants to keep insects off. The wood of the trees is also resistant to decay, so allowing it to last longer than other mulches. Among these properties of mulch lost when using cedar or cypress bark is nourishment added to the soil as the wood decays. Cedar, particularly, also tends to lose its colour fast, fading to a gray colour which might not be aesthetically pleasing to some. The insect-repelling properties, however, make this mulch a great pick if you would like to keep bugs off.

Plastic Mulches

Plastic mulch made from fabric is an inorganic product which comes in transparent, aluminum-coated or black sheets. The very successful for controlling bugs are apparent and aluminum-coated plastics which reflect the sun. As they create a reflection, plastic mulches blind and confuse insects, causing them to keep away from ornamental and garden plants. Use plastic mulches to maintain aphids, whiteflies and leafhoppers under control. However plastic mulches are only successful as soon as the leaves of your plants don’t fully shade the surface of the dirt. Plastic mulches don’t function if 60 percent or more of the soil’s surface is contaminated with plants. Use caution when using plastic mulches from the summertime, as thermal energy from the sun heats up the plastic and contains the potential to burn crops.

Straw and Cocoa Bean Shells

In the backyard, leaf mulches are successful for reducing pest populations and keeping bugs like cucumber beetles from your cucumber and squash plants. Straw also deters these bugs from laying eggs and multiplying in the vicinity of your garden. Furthermore, straw mulches protect your crops from the spread of fungus and other diseases which cause plant rot. Emitting a chocolate scent throughout your lawn landscape, the scent of cocoa bean shell mulch deters bugs and has an aesthetically pleasing dark brown shade. Cocoa bean shells also maintain slugs and dander from your plants. But don’t use cocoa bean shell mulch in houses with pets, as this mulch can sicken dogs. For this reason, cocoa bean shell mulch also needs to be avoided in homes with small children.

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