Keeping gardens pretty can take much work depending on the materials used, the target look, and all the factors that come in between. To avoid high-maintenance landscapers, homeowners and gardeners now revert to rubber mulch.
Rubber mulch does not attract mice. Rubber mulch is inorganic, and it provides neither food nor a deep enough burrowing shelter. Therefore, there’s nothing there for the mice to eat or use. Additionally, rubber mulch provides plenty of other benefits, but like most things, it has its drawbacks, too.
This article will talk about things you must know before using rubber mulch. It will highlight both the good and the bad so that you can make an informed decision about purchasing it. Keep reading to find out more!
What Is Rubber Mulch?
It might be good to start with what a mulch is. Mulches are materials that can be organic, like wood mulch, or inorganic, like rubber mulch. Their purposes include maintaining moisture, insulating plants, preventing weeds, and keeping the area aesthetic.
Rubber mulch is an inorganic mulch made by shredding recycled tires. Being inorganic, it does not decompose quickly. It was initially used as fillers for playgrounds but was later on used in landscaping.
8 Things To Know Before Using Rubber Mulch
There are many factors you will have to consider when selecting a type of mulch. For instance, consider whether you have many ornamental plants or crops. Having children, especially young children, is also a factor.
This section will outline important information that you need to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to use rubber mulch.
1. Rubber Mulch Keeps Weeds, Pests, and Rodents Away
Rubber mulch keeps weeds away by dehydrating them. Since rubber cannot absorb water, all its moisture goes to soil or plants, leaving nothing for weeds. Also, it takes less rubber mulch depth to keep weeds from sprouting compared to wood mulch.
A significant advantage of inorganic mulch, like rubber mulch, is it does not attract pests or rodents, like mice. These critters thrive on organic mulch because wood can be a food source for them, and they are good nesting areas.
However, rubber is not a food source for them, making them a lot less attractive for pests. Aside from that, they are also not good nesting areas since only a few inches of rubber mulch depth is needed. They do not provide enough cover or protection to attract mice.
2. Rubber Is a Fire Hazard
If you live in a hot or fire-prone area, rubber mulch is also not a good idea. Rubber ignites faster than other materials, like wood, and takes a long time to put out.
Also, rubber, when left under the heat, can melt and have this burning smell. Intense heat from the sun may lead it to emit volatile organic compounds, which are health hazards.
3. Rubber May Be Good for Flood-Prone Areas
However, if your home is prone to flooding or strong winds, rubber mulch may be a good choice for you. Since it is heavier than other mulches, rubber mulch does not get displaced easily by water or wind. It’s not something you’ll often see flying across the ground like fallen leaves.
4. Rubber Mulch Can Be Toxic for Plants
Chemicals from recycled tires can leach into the soil as it degrades over the years. One of the most concerning is zinc. Too much zinc can be bad for plants, and rubber tires are abundant with it. Thus, if you want to use rubber mulch, check if your soil is already zinc-rich to avoid exceeding safe levels.
5. Rubber Mulch Requires Little Routine Maintenance
Once you put rubber mulch down where it needs to go, there’s very little you’ll have to do to it after that. It doesn’t fade or start breaking down soon after laying it, and it doesn’t need any special treatment or to be shoveled and moved around to allow water to filter through to your plants. Once it’s down, you can pretty much leave it alone and let it do its thing.
6. Rubber Mulch May Not Be Good for Kids
Even though shredded rubber was promoted as a filler material for playgrounds, it may not be as safe as many thought. Rubber was assumed to be a children-friendly material because it cushions falls well. Children who may trip or fall can land into wire-free rubber and avoid the splinters that may come with usual wood chip fillers.
However, if the rubber is not wire-free, then it can cause injuries. But besides the potential injuries cheap rubber mulch can cause, the main concern about rubber materials is their chemical composition. Rubber mulch comes from tires, and tires are known to contain many chemicals and metals.
These chemicals and metals can have harmful effects, especially after long-term exposure. Although some studies claim that their concentrations and processing methods keep the risks minimal, they are inconclusive and need further investigations.
Another thing to note is that children, especially young kids, tend to put things in their mouths, even rubber shreddings. These may harm them because, besides all the chemicals, the mulch may also have bacteria. Thus, when you have kids, you may want to think twice about rubber mulch.
7. Rubber Mulch Is Long-Lasting
Since it is inorganic, rubber takes years to decompose, with some rubber mulch brands claiming that their product’s quality and color can last up to ten years. This makes it extremely long-lasting, especially compared to typical wood mulch, which needs to be replaced every one to two years.
8. Rubber Mulch Can Be a Big One-Time Expense
Installing rubber mulch can be more expensive than wood mulch. But, since the rubber mulch is low-maintenance and lasts long, that may make up for the costs. But if you’ll only have the mulch in place for two or three years, you may want to reconsider if it’s worth it.
Rubber mulch has many advantages. It does not take much effort, keeps pests, weeds, and mice away, and makes the garden look neat. However, the health and fire hazards can be disadvantageous. Always consider the context and risks in weighing out mulch options.
- Gardener’s Supply Company: Mouse-Proofing
- Terminix: DEFENDING YOUR DOMAIN: HOW TO HELP GET RID OF MICE IN YOUR BACKYARD
- RubberMulch.com: THE PROS AND CONS OF A RUBBER MULCH GARDEN
- Total Landscape Care: Critics take aim at mulch made of recycled tires
- Consumer Reports: Mulch Tests: Rubber stacks up well against wood
- Home Reference: The Pros and Cons of Rubber Mulch
- Eco Green: 5 Reasons Why You Should Use Rubber Mulch
- NBC News: Is Rubber Mulch a Safe Surface for Your Child’s Playground?
- Southern Living: Just Say No To Rubber Mulch
- No Fault: Which is Safer? Rubber or Wood Mulch?
- Rodent Guide: Does Mulch Attract Rats? Here Is Our Guide
- RubberMulch.com: WHY RUBBER MULCH WORKS WELL AGAINST PESTS
- Modern Pest Services: Is Your Landscaping Attracting Pests to Your Home?
- Gardening Know How: Do Mice Like Mulch: How To Get Rid Of Mice In Garden Mulch
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