Which Mulch Attracts Roaches? How to Keep Your Mulches Roach-freem

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Mulches don’t only make your yard look better; they protect the soil from erosion and weeds. They also give additional nutrients to your plants need and provide insulation for winter. However, roaches, among many insects, exploit this and build their nests in mulches, infesting your yard and eventually, your home. So if you have to choose the right ground cover, which mulch attracts roaches? And which doesn’t?

Here are some facts that you might want to think about before redoing your yard.

Which Mulch Attracts Roaches

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Some roaches are just biologically attracted to wood chips and shavings. CC Image courtesy of jacinta lluch valero on Flickr

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Bark Mulch

Home Guides offers a lot of information on mulches. And according to them, bark chips and shavings attract roaches simply because there are cockroach species that are naturally wood-loving insects. They feed on decaying wood, and they live inside the mulch because the bark chips give them a lot of moisture, good cover for shelter and enough space for breeding.

Pine Straw Mulch

This is another ground cover that’s vulnerable to roaches. Of course, pine straw mulch gives roaches what they can get from bark mulch. It provides shelter and traps moisture underneath. But what makes this mulch ideal for these insects is that it’s made out of lightweight pine needles that roaches can easily dig through. In fact, there’s a parcticular roach species that loves to stay in pine straw mulch, the Smokybrown cockroach.

Alternative Mulches You Can Use

Generally, if you want roaches off your yard, stay away from wood mulch. Using these may make your yard look nice, but they can harbor unwanted houseguests underneath.

Below are alternative or even anti-roach ground covers you can use that can still give your yard the look that you’re trying to achieve but without harboring pesky roaches in them.

  • ​Stones. There are plenty of mulches that won’t attract a whole nest of cockroaches, and these are mainly inorganic ground covers that you can pick up from any garden shop. Some of these are stones. You can use gravel, pebbles and rocks. They don’t trap a lot of moisture, and for us, they make gardens look organized and tidier.
  • Plastic mulch. Another inorganic mulch you can use are the plastic ones that are made from polyethylene. They’re available in a lot varieties, but they may cost a little more than other mulches.
  • Recycled mulch. You can also use recycled rubber tires if you want something a bit more environmentally friendly.
  • Cedar mulch. Not all wood is good for roaches. Cedar has a popular reputation for warding off termites, and it works with other kinds of bugs too. Chips or shavings from this tree have naturally occurring bug-repelling substances that can keep roaches out.
  • Cypress mulch. Though it has dabbled with a lot of environmental issues, mulch from Cypress trees don’t attract roaches because of its natural properties.

How to Keep Roaches Off Mulch

So maybe you’ve already laid down the wrong mulch for your yard. Is there any way you can keep them roach-free?

Technically, it would be difficult to keep roaches out of wood mulch, but you can try these tips to try to prevent those bugs from nesting in your yard.

  • ​Apply the right thickness. Home Guides further tells that if you really have to use wood mulch, use the right thickness – 3 to 4 inches thick. This way, the water collected by the mulch moves quickly. Apply too much, make it too thick and the water will stagnate somewhere underneath. This will definitely house a lot of bugs, not just roaches. It’s possible that you’ll get termites too.
  • Don’t over water plants. This applies to homes with no sprinklers. If you constantly have to hose down your plants, try to limit the water you’re giving. A lot of the moisture can stay stagnant underneath the mulch.
  • Follow the 12-inch rule. Keep any ground cover 12 inches away from your house. This is to discourage bugs from entering your home.

So which mulch attracts roaches? Definitely, pine straw and bark mulch take the cake. But that doesn’t mean that all other mulches are totally devoid of roaches. You have to keep the right conditions to avoid an infestation in your yard, and this starts by learning about the right mulches to use and the right ways to keep them bug-free.