Choosing the right landscaping products for your property depends on your climate, your budget and what you use your yard or garden for each day. At Front Runner Rubber Mulch, we want to make that decision easier for our customers. Here we have laid out the pros and cons of rubber landscaping mulch to help you understand your options.
When you first hear the phrase ‘recycled rubber tires’, you don’t immediately think this could be something aesthetically elegant or sophisticated. The reality is that most people cannot identify the material used to make landscaping mulch just by looking at it. Shredded rubber mulch in a natural brown color looks almost identical to traditional wooden mulch. Unlike wooden mulch, however, its color does not fade from exposure to the sun and natural elements.
For homeowners looking to beautify their front yard and commercial property owners who want to make a good first impression, rubber landscaping mulch offers many benefits. You can create a uniform and clean appearance by using any of the available varieties of rubber mulch. Choose between loosely shredded mulch and rounded chips of varying sizes. Natural tones of brown or green can complement flowers and ornamental plants. For an eye-catching effect, use rubber mulch dyed in bright colors.
Some critics of rubber mulch argue that using rubber particles in a garden is not in keeping with a natural environment. By using rubber mulch for landscaping purposes, you are introducing a material that would not naturally be found in gardens; that much is certain. You are however helping the environment and reducing your carbon footprint by choosing to use a completely recycled material. If not repurposed, old tires will just end up in a landfill. Those who use wooden mulch are consuming large quantities of trees to produce a material that needs replacement every year.
One of the biggest concerns consumers hold about rubber mulch is safety. Is it flammable? Is it toxic? Can it be used around my children and pets? Regarding flammability, it is true that rubber mulch can burn, but this is also true of wooden mulch. A stray cigarette butt will not cause a fire, but rubber mulch can feed a wildfire or a purposely started fire. If you live in an area that is very hot and dry or is frequently on alert for wildfires, rubber mulch may not be the best idea. Take the same precautions for wooden mulch.
Rubber mulch is non-toxic and perfectly suitable for use around children and pets. Due to its soft and springy properties, as well as the ease of maintenance, rubber mulch is frequently used in children’s playgrounds. Many commercial brands such as Front Runner Rubber Mulch use only non-toxic, lead-free dyes to color the mulch and are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. If ingested by an animal or child, the rubber mulch will pass through the system as undigestible material without causing acute or chronic problems.
Keeping Your Soil Healthy
Apart from creating the right appearance, the other primary function of landscaping mulch is the protection of your soil and plants. Rubber mulch does an excellent job of protecting the soil from drying out and exposure to extreme temperatures. The rubber chips will allow water to filter down to the ground, but they slow the rate of moisture evaporation from the soil over time. Rubber mulch also acts as an excellent insulator, preventing permafrost or scorching temperatures from penetrating your soil or damaging the roots of your plants. For hot and dry climates, rubber mulch will keep your soil cool and moist, lessening the need to water your garden constantly.
One thing that rubber mulch cannot do is provide organic matter to your soil. As wooden mulch breaks down, it will add nutrients to the soil. If you have concerns about the nutrient level of your soil, simply apply a regular fertilizing treatment to the rubber mulch. The solution will filter through the permeable rubber mulch and reach the layer of soil underneath without any problem.
Rubber mulch is more efficient at preventing soil erosion than wooden mulch. It is denser and heavier so less likely to get blown or washed away. You are less likely to need to top up your soil levels when using rubber landscaping mulch. If insects are a problem around your home or in your yard, rubber garden mulch could be the solution. Unlike wooden mulch, rubber mulch will not attract termites or carpenter ants. You can use rubber mulch to deter pests from your existing trees and shrubs.
Some people worry that rubber mulch will leach heavy metals or toxic chemicals into their soil. Rubber mulch does contain low levels of lead, however, according to tests run by Consumer Reports, the levels are similar or lower than the amount of lead found naturally in soil. Rubber mulch prevents weed growth not by poisoning the plants, but by creating a physical barrier to prevent them reaching the surface. Airborne seeds that land on rubber mulch will not have access to the nutrients necessary for growth. This way, only the plants that you want in your garden will grow and be protected by the rubber mulch.
Possibly the biggest pro associated with rubber landscaping mulch is the low maintenance requirement. Once you spread the rubber mulch over your desired area and rake it into place, there is almost no maintenance work to be done. In contrast to wooden mulch, the rubber mulch does not need the regular turning and raking. It does not disintegrate over time or require yearly replacement or top-ups.
Rubber mulch is highly resistant and suitable for use in all weather. High winds and heavy rain will not disturb the mulch. It is versatile enough to be used in playgrounds, sports arenas, commercial landscaping, driveways, outdoor showers, trails and ornamental gardens. Even when placed on driveways, footpaths, and other heavily trafficked areas, your rubber mulch will not fade in color or disintegrate.
One downside of rubber mulch is its relatively high cost compared to an equal quantity of wooden mulch. Fortunately, the initial investment will probably pay itself back many times over. For adequate coverage and the prevention of weed growth, you will need a layer of rubber mulch 1.5 inches thick. For a similar effect, you will need to put down 3 inches of wooden mulch. You only need half the amount of rubber mulch to do the same job. On top of this, rubber mulch needs replacement around every ten years, compared to the yearly replacement of wooden mulch.
We have found that for general use in most residential and commercial properties, rubber mulch performs well, requires little maintenance and is the best value for money. You can analyze the pros and cons of rubber landscaping mulch yourself and come to a conclusion. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Front Runner Rubber Mulch for advice and information on the prices of our products.