My article on mulching last month covered the benefits of mulch and organic types of mulch. This article is about types of inorganic mulch and termites (organic mulch).

Inorganic mulches include:

Crushed shell, gravel and rock, which provide a nice texture and color in landscape beds but don’t prevent weeds to the extent organic mulches prevent them. They reflect heat, preventing soil moisture loss.

Recycled tire/rubber mulch lasts for a long time, can be quite costly and may contain high zinc levels in leachate, which may harm plants (based on USDA research). Rubber mulch can be flammable, and there may be issues with using this because of stormwater runoff and chemicals entering Tampa Bay.

What about termites in organic mulch? Organic mulch includes: Pine bark, pine straw, eucalyptus, melaleuca, oak leaves and municipal yard waste. University of Florida research indicates termites may be present more frequently in mulched versus non-mulched areas.

However, certain practices will help deter these insects. Examples include: leave space between plants and exterior walls, pull mulch 1 foot away from walls or apply mulch 1 inch thick near buildings to reduce moisture near foundations and apply no more than 1 inch of water per irrigation.

How much mulch should you buy and apply? We have the answer! Just email me at labarber@ufl.edu and I will email a copy of the Mulch Coverage Guide to you.

Enjoy the weather and your landscape at the same time. Happy mulching!

For assistance with horticultural questions, contact Hillsborough County Extension at 744-5519. Although our office is closed, we are working from alternative locations. Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat. Be safe out there!