Rubber mulch, also referred to as rubber "playground" mulch, is a kind of playground flooring material which is taken from tires that have been reused. These days they can be found in various colors that make them quite appealing to anyone who needs mulch. This product is a result of companies who found a good use for old tires. Rather than continue to dispose of tires in landfills, these businesses recycle old tires by shredding them, adding color and using it for mulch. Some of the more common colors and styles are the ones varying from pine and redwood to granite and brick. In some cases, it could be in the form of the standard blue and green colors. Nowadays, rubber mulch has turned out to be a lot more sophisticated in their colors selections and uses.
Setting aside a client’s desire, there are both positives and negatives to choosing to add rubber mulch. Let’s split them up by the most talked about issues.
• Impedes weed growth
One of the significant purposes of mulch is to prevent weeds from coming up; opponents of rubber mulch refer to studies showing it is much less effective in tree establishment or in managing weeds compared with wood chips or maybe natural fibers.
Many people like to use rubber mulch simply because it doesn’t need to be replaced as regularly as wood chips. Most providers boast that their tire mulch can last at least ten years. Rubber mulch lasts a lot longer than organic mulches, but there’s a tradeoff: Rubber mulch doesn’t include organic matter to the soil.
The issue that comes with the eventual disintegration of tire rubber is the leaching of weighty metals and other chemical substances into the soil. Also, certain studies have shown that increased levels of zinc found in rubber can result in zinc toxicity in plants.
Any rubber mulch company that declares its product is not flammable is kidding itself. In the Consumer Reports test, rubber mulch burned up much hotter and quicker than wood mulch and was more difficult to put out.
Organic mulches tend to be more difficult to ignite and a fire advances slowly because of their low carbon to nitrogen ratio. Fires require a high carbon percentage to burn hot and stretch quickly. If your customer lives in an area of high fire hazard, do not use rubber mulch, regardless of any other advantages it provides.
One of the most advantageous characteristics of rubber mulch is the condition that it is highly porous. It does not consume any rainwater so that it allows more water to attain plant roots compared to wood mulch.
• Doesn’t attract bugs
Another plus of utilizing rubber mulch is that, in contrast to some wood mulch, it is unable to feed any pests such as termites or carpenter bugs. The downside is that it is often found to be the preferred mulch for female and nymphal stage Asian cockroaches.
So there you have it. Rubber mulch, as with most any product, has its advantages and disadvantages. As a tree care professional, I’d suggest reviewing the surrounding environment to assess whether or not rubber mulch is a good fit for your yard.