Did you know that termites cause more damage to Australian homes than flood, fire and natural disasters alone? The CSIRO estimates that they cause about $1b worth of damage each year and that 80% of homes in Australia are within just 25 metres of a termite nest.
Termite damage is often not covered by your home and property insurance, so it makes sense to take steps to protect your property. An annual termite inspection and management plan is your best defence. Still, prevention is better than a cure, and there are a few simple things you can do to make your house less attractive to termites.
Keeping them out of your yard creates a buffer zone around your house, so let’s take a look at what you can do to termite-proof your garden.
Making your garden less attractive to termites
There are two things that termites love most – moisture and eating wood.
Firstly, keeping the area immediately around your house nice and dry creates a good natural barrier for termites. Secondly, eliminating potential food sources, i.e. wood, in the garden means termites will need to go elsewhere for food.
Five ways to eliminate moisture around your home
- Check your drainage. Make sure your home has good drainage, that water flows away from the house and isn’t pooling along the perimeter or underneath the building.
- Ensure your gutters are in good working order, with no leaks, and are plumbed to the correct stormwater pipes. This will make sure rainwater from the roof drains away from your house.
- Make sure all downpipes, taps, hot water tank overflows and air conditioning overflows are over a storm drain.
- If your outside taps are dripping, get them fixed. Outside taps are usually attached to external walls, so if they leak, the water drips down to the footings of the house, and you do not want termites making themselves at home there.
- Garden beds around the house look lovely but are a potential termite disaster zone. Keeping your garden looking beautiful means you’ll need to water it, creating the perfect environment for termites. Consider potted plants along the edge of the house if you can.
Five ways to reduce termite food in your garden
- Remove or dig out any old tree stumps or dead trees. They are as irresistible to termites as an all-you-eat breakfast buffet is to Homer Simpson.
- Store firewood away from the house or other buildings. Keeping it off the ground on a raised metal platform (not a wooden pallet) is also a good idea.
- Avoid using wood sleepers as retaining walls. Wooden sleepers become particularly delicious to termites as they soften. There are lots of affordable alternatives to wooden sleepers available these days. At the moment, we love gabion retaining walls – cheap, rustic and completely termite resistant!
- Use termite-resistant mulch. We all know that mulch is essential for a healthy garden. But termites like to forage in the soil, usually in the top 30cm of the ground, looking for their favourite food – decaying timber. Talk to your landscape supply company about termite-resistant mulch, and be sure to dig through it and check for termites before spreading it in your garden.
- Avoid having any wooden structures in direct contact with the ground. This includes sheds, cubby houses, sandpits and play equipment. Use metal footings or platforms to elevate timber structures off the ground.
It is cheaper, easier and a lot less stressful to prevent termites than to get rid of them.
Maintaining a termite-smart garden is a good start, but for peace of mind, keep up the annual termite inspections and have a termite protection system in place.