Applying mulch is one of the best things you can do for your flowers and plant beds, trees and vegetable garden. Mulch is a layer of organic or inorganic material that is spread out on top of the soil to protect against erosion and conserve moisture. Both organic and inorganic mulches have many benefits, but organic mulch will actually enrich the soil. Mulch helps plants maintain a more even soil temperature and prevents weed growth to reduce garden maintenance. In addition, mulch gives your garden beds a neat, landscaped appearance.
One mulch that has great benefits, but also raises a lot of questions is Rubber Mulch
Rubber mulch eliminates the need for annual mulching since rubber does not break down as organic mulches do. This type of mulch is usually offered in natural-looking colors, such as shades of red and brown and is aesthetically pleasing, but will cost more initially than organic mulches.
Weed control. Rubber mulches are equally effective in controlling weeds as wood mulches and are often used in playgrounds because they are usually softer than some other materials such as wood chips.
Staying power. Rubber mulches are heavier than wood mulches and do not float. In a good rain wood mulches will rise up and float away and often that means into your lawn and down into drainage ditches. Also many producers of rubber mulch claim that it will not blow away. According to a study using RubberStuff, Dupont, and cedar wood mulch; when using a leaf blower, set on high, 2 to 3 feet from all three mulches, wood flew all over the place. Dupont (Sold at Lowe's) blew around a little and RubberStuff (Sold online and at Home Depot) didn't budge.
Weathering. The weather elements can have great affects on mulches. Sunshine usually has the greatest impact causing mulches to faid in color over time. Rubber mulches such as RubberStuff claims to fade the slowest and manufacturers indicate that the color will last about 10 years.
Price Concerns. Rubber mulch will initially cost significantly more than organic mulches, but it could be a sensible choice, especially around trees and perennials. In a cost comparison using a 100 sq. ft. area with mulch 1-2 inches deep: Rubber Mulch will cost about $110, Cypress mulch will cost around $50, Hardwood mulch $45, and Pine mulches around $40-$45. As you can see the rubber mulch is significantly more, but keep in mind that the rubber mulch will last year after year, when cypress mulch, hardwood mulch, and pine bark or pine straw will need to be replenished. Over a five year period of time, rubber mulch can save you up to $150.
Overall. Rubber mulch won't enrich the soil by providing nutrients like organic material, but it will control weeds, stay in place in wind and rain, and doesn't need to be replaced as often as organic mulches.
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