discussion by

6/23/2008

Rubber mulch : yay or nay?

At Home Depot I found out they are now selling bagged rubber mulch (by Vigoro) that looks much like the real thing. It's made from 100% recycled tires, but it's dyed to look like red or brown wood mulch.


There's some pros and cons to rubber mulch, but it basically boils down to this: it will take a long, long time to break down. That's a great thing if you are using it on a walkway or playground and have no desire to replace the mulch all the time. That's not a great thing if you want your mulching material to break down over time and add new organic material to your soil.
For playground use, I think it's a pretty good look and doesn't leave much mess. I hate that most local playgrounds are filled with sand, since little Nelumbo Jr. manages to get really dirty. She also thinks it's fun to pour sand on my shoes. I think rubber is a much better alternative. It's much easier to clean off my sneakers, anyway.

14 comments:

RE said...

Rubber Mulch is a really good thing. I bought it for my playground because my kids told me about it. They played somewhere and they said when they fell it didn't hurt so much. Like you said it leaves them cleaner too! I got it from www.rubberecycle.com and it looks really nice!

Paul Decelles said...

hmmmm I have seen this at my Home Depot as well. I am not convinced of its safety. Are there not other things in tires aside from rubber these days.

Kristin said...

I really like how that looks.

Shakespere said...

Hi. Enjoyed your blog. Seems like a lot of hard work that pays off.

Benjamin Vogt said...

NAY. It doesn't timprove soil one bit. For playgrounds, yay. I suppose recycling it, if that's happening, is a good thing, but does that color leak into the soil then?

M. D. Vaden of Oregon said...

The playground use seems decent.

I would never use it for landscape gardens here in Portland, because real mulch like barkdust, provides complex sugars and some stuff called glomalin down the line, which condition and improve soil structure.

Cheers,

M. D. Vaden
www.mdvaden.com
Portland / Beaverton Arborist

Anonymous said...

I really liked my rubber mulch. It draines the water very quickly after it rains.Beside drying very fast it looks great and is safe for my kids. Thanks to all the help from www.recycledrubber.biz

Melvin said...

Nice picture.... i like rubber mulch...
thanks for sharing....

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Melvin
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Brandon Swisher said...

I would never use rubber mulch. Think about it, it's RUBBER, in your garden! Rubber, in your garden. Does that make sense? For you all who enjoy it in the playgroud, okay; either you have very tame kids who play very gently, or they PLAY! And that means rubber is flying during battle-spray-rubber wars, and getting kicked around while racing bee's at moch speed. It should be all over the yard after about 3 weeks of good playing. Then it's fine rubber time: Mulching lawnmower is spraying rubber chunks everywhere. Watch Ouuuut! Finally, while one the lawn mower subject, grass clipping get into there just like everywhere else. Then it's a mess, so you pass the blower over it (it idle power), and phwooop! More rubber blow into the grass. I've seen it, I've seen it, I've seen it. Did I leave out the hard rains and erosion? Mmmm, dead grass patches? Should have stayed with something a little more natural. I wouldn't recommend landscape stone for a play area, but I think a thick base of mulch is pretty soft. Sorry Rubber Mulch Manufacturers! --Brandon Swisher

Pam said...

I decided to experiment with rubber mulch last summer. There's an area next to our pool that was my "testing ground." Almost 1yr later and I love how the color holds. (Texas sun fades everything!) It does not blow around and the few plants in that area seem fine. There was some 'rubber' smell initially, but that went away. I'm planning to use it around the front of our house this spring.

Anonymous said...

People, You have to be crazy to use this rubber mulch. They tell you that it will last 12 years. Then what. Think of all of the chemicals that will get leached into the ground and the exposure to the small bits of rubber that slough off of this stuff. I wouldn't use it if it was the last thing on earth. Go ahead and use it. Then , when problems come up , because it was 'easy' and all and kids maybe get sick ( remember CCA treated wood? , that was supposed to be safe), and health issues begin to crop up, then you'll be sorry. This rubber breaks down alright into what.There's an idiot grower in Connecticut that use Styrofoam pellets in his soil mix. And he's a 'noted' grower, kind of famous. Every time it rains, the stuff floats to the top of the ground. Who knows where it goes when that stuff breaks down. Go organic. This stuff is junk.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting possibility for an area behind my pool that has had several years of mulching and a ton of good soil under it. It's a pretty big area, 36' x 5' and a solution that lasts a few years sounds good. I wouldn't be looking for it to add organic material, as there is a ton there already. It isn't in a walking area so the rubber mulch would not spread either.

Chloe Wallace said...

Rubber mulch for playground is a great idea. It helps the problem of kids being dirty after play time. :)

Chloe Wallace said...

Rubber mulch for playgrounds are safe. It is nontoxic. Rubber mulch inhibits mold and fungus growth that's why it is excellent for drainage and does not compress or flatten out, so water continues to get to plants while controlling weed growth and not attract nesting insects.