Last Updated on March 11, 2021 by Filip Poutintsev
Rubber mulch is essentially a very versatile safety surface that can be used for playgrounds, sports fields, landscaping etc. It has been gaining more popularity in recent years because of its softness the feeling of natural ground.
Rubber mulch has many benefits but on the downside, it might not just be what you’re looking for. So, it pays to check out some pros and cons of rubber mulch before thinking of buying and using it.
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A Brief History
The name “rubber” was coined by from Joseph Priestly, a theologian, author, and chemist. Another early use for rubber was the Mackintosh. Charles Macintosh was the one who invented this waterproof raincoat using layers of material and rubber.
In 1832, the American inventor discovered that adding sulfur to rubber changed the material’s properties. The first-ever rubber tire was created by Scottish inventor John Boyd Dunlop in 1887. And it was used on a bicycle for his son. The tire started to gain attention after bicycles using Dunlop’s tires began to win bicycle races.
Within the 1960s, a German named Berleburger Schaumstoffewerke improved on the method for recycling rubber. Recycled rubber manufacturers expanded to fulfil the demand and advertised to grow the market.
When Barack Obama began his first term in 2009, the Obamas installed a playground at The White House. The primary official White House playground featured recycled scrap tire rubber mulch manufactured in New Jersey.
And after this happened, rubber mulch started getting much recognition than ever and to the current day, the marketplace for rubber mulch in growing and expanding.
Pros of Rubber Mulch
The great thing about rubber mulch is, it actually fits the CFH (Critical Fall Height). That means if a child were to fall from the highest platform from their facility on the rubber mulch, then they’ll be more likely to not sustain serious injuries than other surfaces. Rubber mulch works well for creating a safe environment in a kid’s play area.
2. Low Maintenance
Rubber mulches are low maintenance than organic mulches. Organic mulches need to be replaced usually after a year or two, but rubber mulches can easily last at least up to 10 years. Its durability can be up to 12 times greater than wood mulch. It breaks down so slowly, that it’ll look the same after handful number of years. It actually saves a lot of time and money.
3. Does Not Attract Pests
Another advantage of using rubber mulch is that unlike other wood mulches, it doesn’t attract pests like carpenter ants, wasps, termites etc. So, it’s very home friendly and you don’t have to worry about using rubber mulches near your house’s foundation or anywhere around the buildings.
4. Soil Moisture
Rubber mulch is beneficial for soil moisture as rubber is non-porous and doesn’t absorb water on its way through to the soil. It also reduces fungus growth. It also prevents soil from overheating.
Organic mulches break down quickly in warm and damp environments and may even begin to harm the plants they were meant to foster. Using a rubber mulch eliminates all those problems. Rubber mulch is also much heavier than most organic mulches, making it less susceptible to being blown away or washed away.
One of the attractions of rubber mulch is that it’s available in various colours, like red, blue and green, to satisfy almost any landscaping need. While some people opt to go along with the colours that are usually not found easily, others choose rubber mulch that’s coloured to seem like bark mulch, which gives an illusion of two being the same until you look closely.
Cons of Rubber Mulch
1. Soil Contamination
Rubber mulch doesn’t necessarily enrich the soil and it is also known for leaching heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium, aluminium and chromium into the soil. This can lead to soil contamination and eventually kill the plants.
Rubber mulches are more likely to catch fire easily than organic mulches. It burns faster and is very difficult to put out. Rubber mulches produce a thick layer of smoke when they burn which may result in difficulty in breathing.
3. Hard to Remove
If rubber pieces get into the ground, it can be extremely difficult to remove them.
So, you have to always make sure to put some kind of landscaping fabric before using the rubber mulch. If by any chance the rubber mulch and soil get mixed, it becomes nearly impossible to remove it, unless you hand pick it one by one.
Rubber mulch can be expensive that in some cases it can cost close to double the price of the regular organic mulch. So, people who are on a tight budget should really think twice before deciding on buying it as the installation is also very high at first.
5. Bad Smell
Rubber mulch can smell rubbery during very hot weather or after heavy rainfall. It is more likely to happen if it’s the new rubber mulch. So, it’s good to buy a reputed brand that has good customer ratings.
The pros and cons of rubber mulch that are mentioned above show us that there are many benefits that can be experienced with this recycled product. It does have a high cost and there are some risk factors that must be avoided, but for many purposes, this mulch is a feasible, safe, and sustainable product that spruces up the look of their property.