Rubber mulch is made from recycled, shredded tires. The resulting rubber shreds are dyed a deep burgundy, brown, green or black. Popular as cushioning under children's swing sets, rubber mulch also makes an attractive and durable weed resistant barrier around shrubs and in flower beds. The mulch helps the soil retain water and keeps flower beds warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Rubber mulch will last for years with very little maintenance.
Wash dirt from rubber mulch with a water hose. Rubber mulch is heavier than other mulches, so it won’t wash away along with the dirt. If the mulch is really dirty, for instance, with spilled oil, you can wash it with a power washer and a mild soap. Rinse thoroughly.
Clean leaves, grass clippings and other debris from rubber mulch with a leaf blower. The mulch is heavy enough you won’t blow it away along with the leaves.
Restore the look of faded mulch by stirring it with a leaf rake. Over time, sun can fade the mulch. Stirring brings unexposed surfaces to the top, restoring the overall color of the mulched space.
Rake the mulch periodically to maintain a uniform depth in the mulched bed.
Put potted rubber plant in a location where you can view all sides of the plant and decide what branches need to be removed. Spread newspaper around the base of the plant.
Cut branches just above the joint or node in order to remove the branch. The joints or nodes are the swollen or raised areas along the main stem. New growth appears in two or three places along the node that is just beneath the cut. Cut side branches back to point of origin or main stem. You will notice the white latex sap oozing out of all cut areas. Allow the latex sap to drip freely on newspaper until it dries where the plant was cut. A rubber tree can be cut back as much as 75 percent and still recover.
Dispose of branches or cut sections of branches just below a node and stick in moist soil to root new plants.
Move the rubber plant to a bathtub or a large sink for watering to allow the container to drain freely after you water.
Pour water around the soil in the planting container to saturate it completely. Continue pouring water until the water drains freely from the bottom of the container.
Place the container on a saucer that's large enough for the container. Put the rubber plant back in its regular growing location.
Check the saucer after one to two hours to see how much water is in it. Discard the water from the saucer and replace the saucer beneath the container. Do not allow the plant to sit in a saucer of water because this may cause the roots to rot.
Water the rubber plant again using the same process after allowing the soil to dry slightly.
Prepare the area to be mulched by removing all the weeds. Water your plants right before laying the rubber mulch.
Calculate how much rubber mulch you need for the area. If the area to be mulched is 8 feet by 8 feet, you will need about 8 cubic feet of rubber mulch to lay it at a depth of 1.5 inches. At 2 inches thick, you would need 10.7 cubic feet of mulch for the same area, and if the area is a playground that requires a 6-inch layer of rubber mulch, you’ll need 32 cubic feet of mulch.
Spread out a 1 1/2- to 2-inch layer of rubber mulch around your plants using a garden rake. Lay the rubber mulch as evenly as possible and try not to spread the mulch over any planted seeds or young seedlings.
Mix water-soluble plant fertilizer with tepid water at half the recommended strength, and pour it into the soil around the rubber tree plant, taking care not to touch the leaves with the solution.
Repeat fertilizer applications as described above every three to four weeks, tapering off in the fall as the rubber tree’s growth slows.
Give the rubber plant a rest during the winter months by not fertilizing it. Then, as spring returns and the plant switches to active growth, resume fertilizing every three to four weeks.
Commonly grown as a potted, indoor plant in cooler climates, the rubber tree (Ficus elastica) is planted outdoors in warmer, tropical regions of the world. When grown outdoors, the rubber tree reaches a height ranging from 25 to 40 feet.