Move over, organic Snack: There is a new kid in the park and in the garden. Since rubber mulch hit the market, it has been highly debated among horticulturalists, safety experts and environmentalists. Made from shredded tires, rubber mulch saves space in landfills and also preserves trees. However, some people would say that there are as many disadvantages as advantages to using synthetic rubber mulch. While research continues and views teeter back and forth, the rubber mulch industry continues to expand.
Rubber mulch, when implemented properly, provides a safe place for children to territory. Over 200,000 children are injured each year due to playground falls, according to a report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Council. This makes playground surface safety a key concern for recreational facilities and educational institutions. Pinnacle, a rubber mulch manufacturer, says that a 6-inch layer of rubber mulch protects a kid who falls from as large as 16 feet. Playground mulch is as appealing as it is successful and has to be replaced only after every 10 to12 years, keeping labor and material costs to a minimum. The Environmental Protection Agency tests mulch used in several playgrounds, and also the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association also certifies rubber mulch for playground use.
Even though rubber mulch seems smart in the landscape, studies suggest that it is not nearly as successful as wood chips in controlling weeds in perennial beds. Contrary to what some might think, rubber mulch does break down with time from microbe attack, just as with other mulches. It’s possible that chemicals from the tires may leach into the surrounding water and soil through the decomposition process, causing harm to the environment. Rubber mulch does provide good drainage and insulation against drought and unpleasant weather. Horticulturalists do not recommend using rubber mulch for vegetable beds because of the uncertain effects of the chemicals it might leach.
Even though rubber mulch carries a hefty cost per bag, it lasts longer than other natural mulch and doesn’t need frequent reapplication. Wood mulch loses its luster and must be reapplied annually for best results. While the upfront costs for rubber heels tend to be higher compared to a number of different kinds of mulch, the long-term costs are far less.
According to Linda Chalker of Washington State University, rubber mulch has a greater likelihood of igniting than over 24 other mulch types. Consumer News reports that when rubber mulch is triggered by a match, it burns a lot hotter and longer than wood mulch. These flammability problems are in addition to the concerns about the chemicals found within the rubber tires and also those utilized from the mulch production process.