Natural Pest Control With Cedar Mulch
Along with increased attention to recycling lawn waste, American attention to the benefits and potential problems associated with using mulches around the yard marks a few significant changes in American lawn care practices over the past fifty years.
Spring, the ideal mulching season, prompts most consumers to think aesthetics, weed-control, water management and soil nutrition when making their mulch decisions.
Clever marketing that hitchhikes on the recycling theme extends the traditional wood or plant based idea of mulch to the idea of recycled plastic mulch.
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Commercial wood and plant based mulches, primarily bark mulches, come from a range of sources, including coco, pine and cedar trees, among others.
A bark mulch's ability to decompose over time, adding natural soil amendments, encourages a segment of the yard care population to replace and re-mulch on regular two or three year intervals.
While weed control, water management and soil nutrition rank high in mulch utility, consumers might also want to consider mulch as a pest control management tool.
Discussions of cedar mulch as a pest management tool, for example, follow a line of reasoning similar to that used to market cedar wood as insect resistant outdoor fencing and furniture wood. The oil in cedar, which produces its distinct aroma, is a natural insect repellent.
When using the common form of cedar mulch with some wood chips mixed in, it is important to recognize its pest management potential and limits.
Although cedar oil is a natural insect repellent, unless the mulch product contains the cedar's natural aromatic properties, not typical of mulch, especially after it has been on the ground for some time, its wood repellent properties are limited.
How well it guards against them is a different question. According to the termite research report,
"Termites starved and mortality reached 100% by the 11-12th week on decorative stone, rubber mulch, cocoa shell mulch, and coffee chaff.
The onset of morbidity was slightly slower but mortality also reached 100% by the 13th week on peat moss, by the 14th week on pine bark nuggets, and by the 16th week on extra fine bark mulch.
Mortality exceeded 80% but did not reach 100% on several dyed wood chip mulches and cedar mulch."
Making pest management decisions based on one research report can be problematic. Further research into the relationship between bark mulches and natural pest management could help bring some clarify to questions related to different mulch types and their pest management potential for specific groups of insects.
Until then, consumers also need to remember that certain woods, and their bark mulches, such as pine, provide inviting homes to insects.
Applying cedar mulch can be as easy as weeding and leveling the dirt in the desired area, and covering it with the mulch. While the bag may recommend applications up to four inches deep, generally smaller (2"-3") layers of mulch insure proper aeration and water irrigation of the soil below.
Consumers interested in implementing stronger weed prevention mulching strategies, might consider placing sheet of landscape fabric on top of the weeded area area prior to applying the mulch.
© 2006-2012 Patricia A. Michaels