There are certain pests that should be avoided at all costs, and termites are one of them. These wood-eating bugs can wreak havoc, but while they are most often found in homes, what about raised garden beds?
Do raise beds to attract termites: Raised garden beds attract termites if they are made out of wood. Termites especially love damp wood, so if your raised garden bed is in a dark location or doesn’t have proper drainage, it can attract termites more easily. You can always make a raised garden bed out of metal instead of wood so you don’t have to worry about this problem.
What attracts termites?
In essence, wood attracts termites. While the type and condition will affect how termites are attracted to it, if you have wood lying around, consider it a target for termites.
Old piles of wood are common in backyards, and these are prime real estate for termites. The good news is that on their own, termites might be happy to stick to these piles of wood. But if they are near your home, the termites might spread out.
Moist wood is particularly desirable for termites. This doesn’t have to be a lot of moisture, as even a little will suffice.
Wood that is moist is more attractive to termites than dry wood as it is often slightly rotting and easier to get into.
Termites need an entrance point, so if you have wood in your home but a sound foundation, they won’t be able to get in. However, these are small insects so any cracks in your foundation can be an easy entrance spot for termites.
The base of foundation that goes into the soil is also tempting, as termites can easily burrow through the soil and get to the good stuff.
How do raised beds attract termites
Some parts of a raised garden bed will always be in the shade. This is just the nature of building a box.
As one side of the garden gets sun, the other side of the garden will be in the shade. If you place the raised bed at a particular angle, you may even have a side that is perpetually in darkness.
Even though termites aren’t overly interested in shaded wood, this can create damp conditions. Raised garden beds that are exposed to rain need the sun to dry out, and if they are always in the shade, then the wood will always be moist, which is what termites love.
As we’ve mentioned, termites love moist wood. When you are gardening, water is a huge part of successful growth.
Raised garden beds that are at the bottom of a hill or a slanted area will have pooling water, which can then seep into the wood. Furthermore, if there isn’t proper drainage from the water, it will stay near the raised garden beds and won’t dry out.
How to get rid of termites in raised beds?
Remove infected wood
If only part of your garden bed is infected, first try to remove these pieces of wood. It might be enough to stop the spread of the termites, but you will want to diligently check the other wood.
Always dispose of infected wood properly. You can place it in a large bucket of water for a few days to kill the termites and then seal it in a garbage can. Never put infected wood in a compost or yard waste bin.
There are many natural insecticides that you can use to get rid of termites that won’t damage the plants within your garden. Neem oil and orange peel extract are two good starting points.
Spray either mixture around your raised garden bed. It will then cover the termites and they will die off.
You can actually trick termites into moving away from your raised garden bed by setting a trap. Termites love wet cardboard, so place a few damp pieces next to your garden.
Over the course of a few days, the termites will move over and leave your garden alone. You should then burn the cardboard to kill the termites.
Just note that using wet cardboard might not kill the queen termite, who will probably stay in the raised garden bed. However, it is a good short-term method to stop the problem from spreading.
This should not be your first method of getting rid of termites but is useful if you’ve tried other methods. You can find diatomaceous earth in most garden centers or online.
It works to dry out insects so they die. The problem is that it will also kill friendly insects, such as earthworms.
How to prevent termites in raised beds
Even though it can seem more convenient to have raised garden beds near your home, you want to keep some distance between the two structures. This is to ensure that if there are termites in your garden bed, they won’t easily transfer to your home.
Termites need a habitat to survive. The more hidden crevices there are, the more they are able to thrive.
Gardens aren’t meant to be super clean but the tidier you keep your area, the less chance that termites can find places to live. Clean up that old pile of wood, regularly turn your compost, and pick up any leftover containers and pots.
When building a raised garden bed, the materials you use can go a long way in preventing termites. You can actually buy wood that is treated to be resistant to termites.
Another option is to not use wood at all. You can use metal instead to build your raised garden bed and this way there will be absolutely no threat from termites.
Certain mulches attract termites. It is better to use cedar wood chips as mulch, rather than pine bark, as it will naturally deter termites.
Termites can infest any wooden structure, including a raised garden bed. To prevent termites, use treated wood and keep your yard tidy. If you do have termites, start with a natural insecticide such as neem oil or orange peel oil.