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The 3 D's of Terminating Termites in Your Garden: How to Determine Termite Presence, Deter and De-Termite

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In Australia, no home is ever completely safe from the voracious jaws of a few million marauding termites. This is because they are pretty much everywhere, especially in areas with plenty of trees and in yards where wood is plentiful in retaining walls, fences, garden tools and even mulch. As a gardener, your vegetables and blooms are your pride and joy. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing your garden flourish and produce an abundance of fruits and vegetables. 

However, you may be just one of millions in the vicinity that appreciates all your garden has to offer.

Termites and Their Love of Gardens

Believe it or not but termites are actually beneficial to the soil beneath your feet. Because they create so many tunnels in the soil, termites allow rainwater to better penetrate and saturate soil as well as provide the soil with nutrients in the form of debris from the surface that often sinks into the soil as a result of their constant plowing of the soil with their jaws. 

As a gardener and a homeowner, that probably isn't very comforting. Termites are, after all, constantly eating, and anything in the vicinity of your garden that contains cellulose, such as wooden gardening tools, sheds, fences, retaining walls and your home, may become termite food if you don't garden with care.

The 3 D's of Termite Control in Your Garden

Termites will always be around, and they will always eat. There is no getting past that. They are so voracious that scientists have been trying to determine whether or not they might make for a good solution to getting rid of the tons of paper and plastic waste humans produce each year. 

By following the principles of the 3 D's of termite control, you stand a better chance of keeping termites from eating you out of garden and home. 

Determine Their Presence

Because termite colonies and nests are located under the ground, they can be hard to spot if you don't know what to look for. However, you can be sure termites are in the near vicinity, possibly right under your very feet if:

  • Any of the wooden structures in the vicinity are weakened or softened by termite damage.
  • Your garden tools are being attacked.
  • Your property is in an area surrounded by bush, especially eucalyptus trees, in which termites often nest.
  • You have spotted mud tunnels alongside fences and over any surface that is in direct sunlight.
  • You have spotted "white ants" in your garden beds.

Once you find termites, it's time to deter them from eating your most valuable assets—your garden and home!

Deter Them 

While you might not be able to completely keep them away, you can limit their meals and therefore make them look elsewhere for food. 

  1. Gravel Borders: When gardening, always make sure there are borders between structures. Create a barrier between your house, shed, and any other structure in the vicinity by first putting down a sheet of plastic before laying gravel on top of the plastic around the border at least 6" from the structure. This will help keep termites away from your house and other structures by limiting the moisture and warmth around them. 
  2. Wood Removal: If termites are in the area, you should remove all wood in contact with the soil from your yard, and that includes tools and raised garden bed borders. 
  3. Raised Garden Beds: Using cinder blocks, concrete or rock, you can make your garden termite proof by building raised beds that keep termites from infiltrating and eating your vegetable patches. 
  4. No Extensive Root Systems Near House: Do not put any plants in near your house that may have extensive root systems as termites can use those root systems to gain access to the foundations of your house. 
  5. No Mulch Near House: Keep mulch away from the borders of structures.

De-Termite Your Garden

If termites are invading your garden in numbers, you may have to move your garden while you treat the area. Termite bait traps placed around your garden may help to keep termites away, but if not, you may have to move your garden to another location while you treat the soil with diatomaceous earth.

You can also purchase some beneficial nematodes from a local garden center and introduce them into your garden. Beneficial nematodes are tiny worm-like parasites that devour garden pests such as termites and ants. They can even locate and kill the king and queen. 

However, if you can't eradicate them on your own, call in a professional pest control company to deal with them, so that you can get on with what you love most—gardening.