When it comes to selecting rubber mulch as a mulch cover for your lawn or garden, you might be faced with a heap (pun unintended) of contemplation.
Just like with any big gardening decision, there are advantages and disadvantages to be weighed up against each other.
Using rubber mulch on the exterior of a home can be a durable and color guaranteed option, but the cost and slight safety concerns do mean that you should be selective and informed of the pros & cons of rubber mulch before purchasing and installing it.
Helping you decide the pros & cons of rubber mulch and if it is right for you, we have put together an easy-to-follow guide of the ins and outs.
Set and Forget
You only need to set rubber mulch once. Thanks to its durability and slow deterioration, amongst other things, rubber mulch generally stays in the same place. That means that you would not need to top up the area in which it is set as you would do with other types of mulch.
Wooden bark or chips, straw or hay, and compost require yearly or bi-yearly top-up – rubber mulch doesn’t.
Rubber Mulch Doesn’t Float
Contrary to many of the mulch alternatives, rubber mulch doesn’t float. Why would this be beneficial? Because the rubber mulch will stay in place when your garden receives heavy rains.
When the water drains away, it can often take a good portion of your mulch along with it. Not with rubber, though!
Rubber Mulch Doesn’t Blow Away
Just as with rainwater, rubber mulch stays in place in windy conditions. Whether that is through mother nature, or something such as a leaf blower when you maintain your garden, you can rest assured that your mulch will stay exactly where they are.
Rubber mulch comes in a number of different color tones and shades that might better suit the aesthetic of your garden.
Not only is this already a benefit in and of itself, but the color will not fade away over time – nor would the compliments on your garden!
Doesn’t Attract Insects
Insects are attracted by several other types of mulch. Wooden bark and chips are renowned to attract termites and red ants which can be detrimental to other parts of your home, such as trees and wooden structures.
These pests will not be attracted by the rubber alternative and your wooden surrounds will stay safe.
May Reduce Weeds
Rubber mulch doesn’t contain any nutrients. This means that it will not encourage or be able to fertilize weeds as much as other types of mulch would.
While there is no way to prevent weeds amongst mulch entirely, it is beneficial when there are a lot fewer weeds to have to deal with.
Most rubber mulches are playground certified. Not only does this mean that it’s free from any materials that may be harmful to children, but it actually serves as better protection against falls.
The softer compound, therefore, makes for a much safer environment for children all around. Here is more information on rubber mulch specifically for playgrounds.
Compared to wooden mulch, rubber mulch is far more sustainable. While wood suppliers strive to implement sustainable methods in their manufacturing, deforestation is still required throughout the process.
This is not the case with rubber mulch as it is mainly made from recycled tires and contributes to the waste tire solution.
Initial Costs are Expensive
At the outset, the cost of rubber mulch is can be up to four times more expensive than other mulches and this might throw you off.
However, we do want to emphasize the “initial” part. When you keep in mind that there’s little top-up, if any, required over its lifespan, it may even work out to be more cost-effective than natural mulch options.
Rubber Mulch does not Fertilize
What can be seen as somewhat of a double-edged sword, rubber mulch has no fertilizing qualities, for obvious reasons. And while this means that things like weeds may get reduced, it doesn’t fertilize any of the immediate soil around it.
Therefore, additional fertilizer would be required about once a year and that would naturally come at an extra cost.
Gets Hotter Than Other Mulch
There is quite a misconception when it comes to the temperature that rubber mulch may get to.
While it is a fact that rubber mulch’s temperature does get hotter than that of other types of mulch, it does by no means mean that the rubber alternative becomes unbearably hot.
Tests and experiments have shown the temperatures that rubber mulch reaches, are merely a few degrees higher, and fall in the same range as that of a number of other surfaces.
Rubber mulch leach metals and chemicals into the soil over time.
This can affect the soil negatively and it is not recommended to have the mulch in or close to an area where in some way it will be ingested, such as a vegetable garden for instance.
Rubber Mulch is Flammable
Many manufacturers might lead consumers on that rubber mulch isn’t flammable. This is simply just not the case and rubber mulch is just as flammable as other mulches.
While this may not be a con that is exclusive to rubber mulch, in particular, the reason we’re listing it as one is to rule out purchases based on this sort of misinformation on its own.
Some brands of rubber mulch tend to have a distinct, rubbery smell coupled on hot or even wet days. And while it may not necessarily be a bad or even unpleasant smell, it is not a scent that you would usually associate with being out in the garden. Some people may find this to be less than ideal.
Pros & Cons of Rubber Mulch – Conclusion
As you can see rubber mulch as a ground cover in your garden has its fair share of benefits coupled with some drawbacks. It does come at a higher (initial) cost but for many purposes, rubber mulch is a feasible, safe, and sustainable cover option compared to other mulches.
Hopefully, the information provided in this article will help you make an informed decision when you decide on mulch for your garden.
Your feedback is important. Please let us know your experience with rubber mulch.