“Is rubber mulch safe for plants?” is a question many gardeners ask. Unfortunately, it is not, so we usually do not recommend covering plants with rubber.

Is Rubber Mulch Safe For Plants Plant America

Sure, using rubber as mulch does have several advantages over traditional types of mulch, but natural options are always better. This article will discuss rubber mulch’s pros and cons in great detail.

Is Rubber Mulch Safe For Use On Plants?

💥 No, rubber mulch is not safe for use on plants when used for long periods. Although it is nonbiodegradable, it breaks down eventually and liberates toxic chemicals into the soil and plant roots. It is also flammable, so care should be exercised around it.

What are Some Disadvantages of Using Rubber Mulch?

Some significant disadvantages of using rubber mulch are that it is nonbiodegradable, leeches toxins into the soil, and has a pungent smell. It is also costly to buy and to lay all over the soil with a landscape fabric between it and the soil.

– It Leeches Harmful Chemicals

Contrary to popular belief, rubber breaks down over time and leeches chemicals into the soil. Most of these chemicals are harmful and do not contribute to the soil’s fertility. Some substances, like zinc, cadmium, chromium, etc., are dangerous and make the soil toxic over time.

– Far More Expensive

Rubber tends to be expensive to buy and then lay down as mulch. Its initial cost is three times or more than that of organic mulch. Before it can be laid down over the plants, a geotextile landscape fabric is needed, which is also quite costly.  Rubber saves money in the long term, such as over several years. This is because it is nonbiodegradable and must not be replaced yearly.

– It Has A Bad Smell

Let’s be honest that no one likes how rubber smells, right? In summer, this mulch gets heated under the smell, producing a nasty smell. This smell indicates that gasses are being released under the influence of heat.

– Potential Health Risks

Low-quality rubber, when used as mulch, tends to release dangerous substances. These are referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and are removed after exposure to the outside environment. These toxic rubber mulch compounds have been linked to cancer and neurological conditions.

Health Risks of Rubber Mulch Plant America

– It Is Highly Flammable

It burns at a much higher temperature, making rubber mulch flammable and very dangerous. It also releases toxic gasses as it burns, which can cause choking. Of course, the grass and the plants underneath will burn right away.

What are the Advantages of Using Rubber as Mulch?

The advantages of using rubber as mulch are that it suppresses weeds, provides heat insulation to the plants, and lasts much longer. It is also considered a sustainable and environmentally friendly option since it is made by recycling existing rubber.

– Suppresses Weed Growth

Rubber mulch is quite effective when it comes to suppressing the weeds growing under it. It completely blocks the access of air and light to the weeds. It also doesn’t break down and release any nutrients for the weeds.

– Low Maintenance

Once this mulch has been laid down on top of the soil, you will require very little further maintenance. Because of their durability, you will not have to replace them for several years unless you want to.

– Long Lasting

Rubber, when laid over the soil, will last as long as ten years without special care. The higher the material quality you invest in, the more long-lasting it will be. This entails spending less time and money on reapplying mulch over plants.

Long Lasting Rubber Mulch Plant America

– Provides Heat Insulation

One of the best uses of rubber as mulch material is that it is an insulator against both heat and cold. It retains heat and provides warmth to the top layers of the soil. This has been known to help flowers bloom earlier and continue blooming late into the season.

– Provides More Coverage

Rubber mulch provides more coverage because it usually comes in uninterrupted pieces. It scatters around less than organic mulches. A one-and-a-half-inch thick layer of rubber provides as much coverage as three inches of any organic material.

– Provides Safety For Kids

Using rubber as mulch over lawns and playgrounds makes these areas safer for kids. The rubber acts as a cushion and helps prevent injuries in case of falls or slips. If you have kids at home who like to play around on the lawn, then this is a fine choice for you to consider.

What are Some Better Alternatives to Rubber Mulch?

Some better alternatives to using rubber mulch for plants is using organic mulches. These include things taken from your home, like newspapers, grass clippings, wood mulch, or fallen leaves. Try composting leftover kitchen scraps, as it can also be used as mulch material.

– Newspaper

Newspaper is one of the best natural alternatives to rubber mulch. You can rip it into pieces and use them as mulch by spreading them over the grass. These pieces can also be mixed with other organic mulches like leaves, wood chips, etc. At the same time, newspapers can also be distributed over weeds and weighed down to kill them.

– Compost

This might surprise many of you, but compost makes such an effective mulch. It forms a protective layer all over the soil, which helps retain moisture and prevent its excessive loss. It also slowly releases all the critical nutrients into the soil, boosting its health.

A thick enough layer of compost also acts as protective insulation against heat and cold. The best thing about composting is recycling organic waste in a sustainable manner right within your own house.

– Clippings of Grass

Grass clippings are the most commonly used form of organic mulch, and rightfully so. They can spread over the soil quickly and break down shortly. These clippings protect the soil from drying and provide nitrogen as they decompose.

Clippings of Grass Mulch Plant America

Grass clippings can be collected easily using the bagging equipment of the lawn mower. A mulching-type mower makes things even more accessible as it converts grass to mulch as soon as it is mowed.

Just like rubber, they produce a foul odor as they decompose over time. Another major drawback is that they tend to develop roots in the soil when used during rainy seasons.

– Straw

Straw is challenging to spread properly over plants and grass, especially when compared to rubber. Other than that, it is the best mulch material in all aspects. It reflects light away and so helps suppress weeds.

It breaks down quickly and enriches the soil with significant nitrogen. The downside to this property is that straw as mulch only lasts up to eight months. Unlike compost, straw has no seeds and does not contribute to weed production.

It retains moisture well and keeps the plant roots from dehydration. Straw is also a safe material for mulch and protects the roots from diseases and pests. If you want to eliminate it, it can be easily raked up from the soil.

What is Rubber Mulch Made of?

Rubber mulch is made of recycled rubber that comes from old and used tires. It doesn’t break down simply and is considered a sustainable material. It’s readily available in several forms, and it’s up to the buyer to select a layout that is most suitable.

It is commonly purchasable in nugget form or shredded form. For trees, you can get mulch that is in ring form and can be wrapped around the stems.

– Rubber vs. Organic Mulch

Regular mulch comprises the organic materials used in lawn care, like newspapers or wood mulch. They are much cheaper in comparison and cost only around $3 per cubic foot, whereas rubber would cost around $11 per cubic foot.

Rubber vs Organic Mulch Plant America

Organic mulch naturally decomposes over time and needs to be replaced every year or two. Organic mulches also attract bugs who come near them in search of food and shelter. The only known bug that the rubber mulch attracts is the cockroach.

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