Rubber garden mulch made from recycled old tires may seem somewhat unusual, but given such advantages as being very durable, environmentally friendly and coming in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, rubber garden mulch has become a popular alternative from the more traditional organic mulches.
Rubber mulch is also known as tire mulch because it is usually made entirely from recycled tires. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that in the United States alone, 290 million tires are discarded each year. Making the choice to use rubber mulch makes sense because it creates a new use for something that was destined to end up in a pile or buried in a landfill.
RUBBER VERSUS ORGANIC
The use of rubber mulch in gardens rather than organic is still very controversial. Typical mulches such as wood chips, straw and pine needles are considered superior because they will eventually break down and provide the soil with organic material. Rubber mulch will not do this. However, economically, rubber garden mulch is considered superior because it is longer lasting and much more durable than traditional mulches.
Rubber mulch has all the same benefits of organic mulches; it is non-toxic, it retains moisture, controls weeds, and is aesthetically appealing. Further, it is resistant to mold, mildew, and general decay. Best of all, it will not attract unwanted insect pests.
USING RUBBER MULCH
- Rubber garden mulch can be used in your flower beds, around trees and shrubs, or for creating walkways. Because you do not need to replace it as often as wood, rubber mulch is a sensible choice around trees and perennials.
- Rubber mulch is best applied after the soil has begun to warm up by mid-spring. In the areas where you plan to lay the rubber mulch, pull out all weeds and apply a pre-emergent weedkiller two days before laying the mulch.
- Give all plants a good watering right before laying the rubber mulch around them. If you are laying mulch where you have just planted seeds, insert small flags or sticks so as not to apply the mulch directly over the seeds.
- Level the area by raking the mulch and create a uniform depth of 2 to 3 inches. At this depth, rubber mulch, as compared to wood mulches, does a much better job of insulating the soil from high surface temperatures.
- Since rubber is non-porous and does not absorb water, rubber mulch does an excellent job keep the soil moisturized. Also important is the fact that rubber mulch is heavier than organic mulches so it will not blow or float away when it storms.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER
If you are planning to buy rubber mulch be sure to plan a budget in advance as rubber garden mulch is more expensive than organic mulch.
Just like mulches made of organic materials, rubber mulches could be hazardous when ignited. Care should be taken when used around a home with smokers.
Also, look for a mulch that has a UV-protective coating. Mulch that has been dyed a bright color will eventually fade, and black tires can oxidize over time, giving them a chalky surface. A UV-protective coating will insure that your investment will hold up through the years of heat, cold, rain and snow.