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Don't Make Home a Termite's Buffet

April 15, 2001|Inman News Features

While you're puzzling over what and where to plant this spring, you'll also need to make sure you're not building highways for hungry hordes of termites to attack your home.

"Homeowners rarely consider termites in landscaping, but planting and mulching too close to the home's foundation could make the home extra appealing and accessible to termites," says Richard Roll, president of the American Homeowners Assn., a Washington, D.C.-area organization that educates and represents the interests of first-time home buyers and homeowners.

Termite prevention and repair of termite damage cost homeowners $1.5 billion a year, according to the National Pest Control Assn.

Termites are attracted to dead growth on shrubs and trees, so don't give them anything to munch on.

Don't plant anything, even ground cover, close to the home. Always leave a safety margin of at least 18 inches.

Mulch also can be a problem, forming a nice layer of delectable decomposing termite food. Use harder, inedible alternatives such as rock or flagstone.

In addition to food, termites also need a ready source of moisture. Make sure the ground slopes away from the home's foundation to carry away excess rainwater.

Large trees shouldn't be closer to the home than 20 feet because an extensive root system and tree stump are enough to form a highway to your home.

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