Made by shredding tires into small mulch-sized pieces, rubber mulch is touted as an excellent, recycled garden product. Used tires are shredded and painted to resemble organic mulch and may be used in the same way as traditional mulches or barks. There are many advantages to using this inorganic product, which is available at most retail garden-supply stores.
The small pieces of rubber that comprise rubber mulch won't break down like organic mulches, so you will not need to re-mulch your yard or garden as you would with organic mulch. The results of a test posted on the ConsumerReports.com blog in March 2009 showed that even when blasted with three inches of water, rubber mulch did not wash away.
Pests and Weeds
Rubber mulch is equally effective at tamping down weeds as organic mulch and far more effective at eliminating pests. Organic mulches not only attract pests, but may introduce new pests into your yard or garden. Because rubber mulch does not provide any nutrients to pests, it does not attract them. In particular, rubber mulch is a good choice to use close to your dwelling, as it works as a barrier against termites.
The ConsumerReports.com study also showed that rubber mulch needs little maintenance--simply rake when the mulch becomes uneven. Because the mulch does not break down or wash away, it does not need to be replaced.
Rubber mulch is non-toxic and non-flammable, according to the Rubber Manufacturer's Association. Because of this, it is recommended for use close to structures as a fire deterrent.
Rubber mulch is also more forgiving than organic, wood mulches and has become a popular alternative for playgrounds. According to a March 2001 story on WasteAge.com, “When you put [the rubber mulch] on a playground, if you [place approximately] four or five inches underneath the equipment, it will act like a mattress,” said rubber mulch distributor Steven Kirby of Rubber Mulch Etc.