Preventing Your Cedar Decking from Falling Prey to Pests
Cedar decking is highly popular with Washington homeowners, not only for its looks but for its durability and its insect-deterring properties. Cedar’s natural pest resistance isn’t foolproof, however, and the Northwest’s rainy climate pretty much guarantees pests will seek a comfortable refuge in or around your cedar deck. Vancouver residents can help prevent a pest infestation – and resulting long-term damage to their cedar decking – by planning ahead and making the area less attractive.
Listed below are five general pest prevention measures for cedar decking Washington homeowners can take to avert an infestation.
Build a Secure Foundation
Cedar decks should never be built directly above the ground layer. Always build a foundation layer made out of concrete or concrete-to-wood posts. If your deck foundation is touching dirt or soil, then ants, slugs, termites and other insects will work their way up into the cedar decking.
Make sure you leave enough crawl space, though, for future deck post maintenance. Cedar posts will slowly crack overtime, and termites can burrow into these cracks and begin destroying your cedar decking. Washington residents can prolong the life of their deck posts by building a strong foundation rather than settling for a rush job or a cheap alternative.
Limit Underdeck Access
In an ideal world, the area below your deck would be free of any and all pests. In reality, however, most yards are teeming with insect and critter life. While it’s not feasible to completely prevent access to the area beneath your cedar deck, Vancouver homeowners should limit it as much as possible, particularly for larger pests such as squirrels, rats, skunks, mice and opossums.
Deck skirting is a popular way of preventing your underdeck area from becoming a haven for critters. Lattice, cedar boards and many other materials can be used to block off the underdeck while enhancing the appearance of your cedar decking. Make sure to seal all entry points and corners tightly, and include a small access door for future cedar decking maintenance.
Control the Water Flow
Moisture buildup is one of the biggest factors that can lure pests to your cedar decking. Any water that pools on or beneath your deck offers an ideal feeding and breeding ground for many insects – not to mention increases your chances of deck rot. For that reason, it’s essential to ensure your deck has proper ventilation and drainage.
Correctly spacing the boards of your cedar decking, rather than placing them too close together, will help ventilate your deck and allow moisture to evaporate from between the boards. To keep water from pooling beneath your deck, lay down a layer of landscaping fabric and cover it with gravel. There are also underdeck drainage systems you can install to help collect and divert water away from your cedar decking. Finally, make sure all gutters near your deck remain clog-free.
Natural Deck Defenses
Another way you can keep pests from infesting your deck is to add some natural defenses. For example, certain plants repel insects and other critters. Consider planting a small garden near your cedar decking and filling it with local pest-repelling plants. Read up on native Washington plants with pest-deterring properties for more information. Another option is to install a pergola on your cedar decking and hang pest-repelling plants from it.
Cedar decking is naturally resistant to fungus and insect damage. Eventually, however, your deck will begin to degrade, and a pest intrusion is bound to happen. The key is to plan for long-term pest control and keep up with routine maintenance. By following a few basic guidelines, you can keep your pest problems under control before they can get out of hand.