Problems With Rubber Mulch

Rubber mulch is a by-product of the automobile industry. First, as much of the steel as possible is removed from the tires (leaving small shreds of metal behind). Next, the rubber is ground into chips and sold as a landscaping material. Spend a hot summer day on a playground bedded down with rubber mulch and you will be able to smell one problem with rubber mulch. You don't have to look much further for more problems with using this mulch.

Not Effective

Rubber mulch will last longer and hold its color better than other mulches, but it does break down and fade eventually. However, as organic mulches break down, they improve the soil. As rubber mulch breaks down, it poisons the soil. Additionally, mulches made with straw, sawdust or wood chips perform better at controlling weeds than rubber mulch.

Kills Beneficial Insects and Plants

Rubber mulch can contribute to killing off ornamental plants. It kills good microbes needed in your garden to control insects and disease. Rubber mulch kills beneficial insects your garden needs.

Leaks Toxins

Rubber mulch deadly because it contains toxic chemicals and heavy metals. The toxins from the rubber mulch increase and are released into the air, ground and water as the mulch breaks down. These toxins cause damage to marine life--affecting seaweed and plankton as well as killing entire communities of algae, zooplankton, snails and fish. Leachate from ground up tires can cause reproductive problems, skin and eye irritation, organ damage, precancerous lesions and even death for animals and plants.


Rubber mulch is extremely flammable. Organic mulches are more difficult to ignite and the fire spreads slowly. Rubber mulch, on the other hand, can ignite with a discarded match or cigarette butt and burst into flames within minutes. The fire from rubber mulch is difficult to extinguish.

Keywords: rubber mulch, problems, landscaping

About this Author

Em Connell McCarty has been writing for 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She writes fiction, creative non-fiction and essays. McCarty's work has been published in Hip Mama magazine.