Is rubber mulch biodegradable?

This blog post will answer the question, “Is rubber mulch biodegradable” and cover topics like the biodegradability of rubber mulch and frequently asked questions related to the topic.

Is rubber mulch biodegradable?

No, rubber mulch is not biodegradable. It doesn’t break down. Since rubber mulch is not biological, it does not break down and will not add organic matter to the soil.

5 Arguments in Favor of Rubber Mulch

Here are the five reasons why you should use rubber mulch:

  • Sturdy
  • Easy to Maintain
  • Encourages Plant Growth
  • Environmentally Responsible
  • Less Insect Life

I will now elaborate on these.

Sturdy

Due to the fact that wood mulch degrades over time, homeowners need to replenish it often. The little wood chips resist the heat of the sun, the cycle of freezing and thawing during the icy winter months, and the absorption of water during rainstorms. 

The wood gradually blends in with the surrounding soil due to the combination of all these factors that break it down.

Rubber mulch cannot decompose. It is the final product of a facility that recycles used tires. These recyclers turn whole tires into clean, wire-free rubber chips instead of letting them rot in landfills for decades. 

The majority of manufacturers claim their goods will last 10 or more years without having to be changed or renewed since the rubber used in automobile and truck tires is designed to withstand tough circumstances.

Easy to Maintain

Rubber mulch is not only non-biodegradable, but also heavy. It is heavier than mulch and made of wood. Even after a significant downpour, it won’t wash down the sidewalk as wood mulch often does. 

You don’t have to constantly purchase mulch for your yard every year since you never have to add to it or replace it. This sort of mulch is a one-time purchase, so even while installation may be more expensive initially, it will cost you less in the long run to have a lovely ground cover.

Encourages Plant Growth

Water and rubber do not mix. Water may easily travel through the mulch made from used tires and reach the soil below. The soil is strengthened for flowers and plants by all the nutrients and water that fall on it. Like with wood mulch, none of it is absorbed by the mulch itself.

Rubber mulch prevents the development of undesirable weeds and fungi that may damage plants since it doesn’t absorb water. To germinate, weed seeds need a damp environment. 

The dry atmosphere of the rubber mulch causes the seeds to dry up and perish before they have a chance to sprout. Additionally, less mulch is needed to prevent weeds from growing. 

Rubber mulch, which can be applied in an inch and a half, may replace the three inches of wood mulch that you would otherwise require. Mold and other fungi need a lot of moisture to grow, which rubber mulch beds don’t provide.

Environmentally Responsible

Rubber mulch, first and foremost, lessens our reliance on wood for landscaping. Despite their best efforts, wood mulch manufacturers must still cut down trees in order to make their goods. With rubber mulch, no trees are used. 

Instead, a harmful waste product is totally recycled to create rubber mulch. You help the waste tire problem by utilizing a recycled item rather than a new one.

By using rubber mulch, landscapers may get LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credits. The objective of this program, which is governed by the Green Building Rating Program, is to promote and honor environmentally friendly construction methods. 

Potential tenants are drawn to buildings with higher LEED ratings, and contractors who opt to use these construction techniques may be eligible for tax benefits.

Less Insect Life

Deadwood attracts wood-eating insects like termites & carpenter ants, which makes mulch made of dead wood appealing to them. In planter beds filled with rubber chips, these insects find nothing to attract them. 

Keeping these insects out of the planter beds surrounding the outside of your house may help prevent pest damage. Additionally, it lessens the need to swab your yard with chemical pesticides to keep these pests away.

Rubber mulching your yard may be beneficial on both ends. Your plants will flourish, you’ll spend less time each year weeding and spreading mulch, and you’ll be doing your part to prevent discarded tires from contaminating the environment. It is a clever response to a significant issue.

Rubber Mulch’s benefits and drawbacks

Let’s examine the advantages and drawbacks of using rubber mulch for your plants in more detail.

The Benefits

  • It effectively insulates against heat. Compared to wood chips or other organic materials, rubber mulch is more effective in protecting plants from heat. It is particularly useful in “indoor” gardens like sunrooms and solariums since it doesn’t decompose and smells rotten.
  • Insects won’t be drawn to it. Rubber is not a desirable material for insects to nest in or chew on, unlike earth and wood. Ants and termites in particular fall under this category. Some people even put rubber mulch around their dwellings as a form of insulation to ward off insects.
  • It prevents fungus and weed development. Rubber mulch may really aid in preventing fungus development in plants since rubber does not absorb water. Since the “nuggets” made of shredded rubber tires are non-porous, water and fertilizer may travel through them and reach the soil underneath them. Weeds are unable to grow on rubber and are unable to penetrate the mulch layer to the soil.
  • It never ends. Well, maybe not forever, but considering how slowly rubber ages, you should be able to enjoy the landscaping material for many years without having to spend money or worry about topping it up every year.
  • It stays in place. Rubber mulch is bulkier than organic mulches and water, so it won’t easily shift or float away during a downpour.
  • It offers additional alternatives for design. Rubber mulch gives additional alternatives to match existing landscaping components since it comes in a variety of earthy tones and designer hues. Rubber mulch tends to maintain its color for up to ten years, unlike colored wood mulch.
  • It requires little upkeep. Because rubber mulch is denser and more durable than biological mulches, it requires less upkeep and replenishment, which saves both money and time.
  • It offers twice as much coverage. While initially more costly, rubber mulch may successfully suppress weed growth with a 1.5-inch depth as opposed to 3 inches of organic material.
  • It’s a choice that’s good for the environment. Rubber mulch for landscaping is created from used tires. By using this material, you may avoid using landfills and spare no trees in the process.

The Cons:

  • It doesn’t break down. Since rubber mulch is not biological, it does not break down and will not add organic matter to the soil.
  • Chemical residues that might be damaging to plants are present. Contrary to common assumption, chemicals may be included in both rubber and wood mulch. Some wood mulches are produced using commercial pallets, some of which may have had contact with chemicals. 

Of course, chemicals are used in the production of rubber. Both studies and mulches themselves vary. Zinc is the most frequent component discovered in rubber mulch that may have an impact on soil. Zinc occurs naturally in soil and may have an impact on soil quality depending on the amount present. 

In certain US regions, the native soil has enough or even high quantities of zinc, but in other regions, there is a zinc deficit. Before choosing the product that would work best for your landscaping job, you may want to check the zinc levels in your soil if you are unsure.

  • It doesn’t seem or feel natural. Despite the wide variety of natural hues available, some people choose the authentic appearance and texture of actual earth, wood, or stone.

Is rubber mulch a green product?

Manufacturers advertise the durability, visual appeal, and safety of rubber mulches created from shredded tires for flowers, plants, and animals. Businesses claim that the mulch material is an eco-friendly answer to a significant waste-disposal issue. 

For the whole response, click. So, does rubber mulch decompose naturally? Nowadays, biodegradable or compostable plastic mulches are being developed in compliance with ASTM requirements, in response to environmental concerns. 

The use of recycled rubber as an alternative sustainable mulching material is quickly gaining traction. The old tire tread or the bottoms of sneakers are used to make it. Can rubber be considered environmentally friendly? 

Eco-friendly rubber is made from trees or natural rubber. The product itself has less of an environmental effect than harvesting and consuming it. The global carbon balance in the atmosphere is maintained by the rubber tree, a sustainable crop. Recycled natural rubber is available.

Why Rubber Mulch Should Not Be Used?

You should not use rubber mulch for the following reasons:

  • Rubber Mulch Is Bad For The Health Of Your Garden
  • Mulch Made of Rubber Is a Fire Risk
  • It Has a Bad Smell
  • Rubber Mulch Has a Bad Look
  • It’s challenging to get rid of

I will now elaborate on these.

Rubber Mulch Is Bad For The Health Of Your Garden

Rubber mulch is a bad option. It degrades, just like everything else, and when it does, it releases a poisonous concoction of hazardous compounds and heavy metals into the groundwater and soil.

Mulch Made of Rubber Is a Fire Risk

As it burns at a considerably greater temp than natural mulches and emits poisonous smoke, rubber mulch also poses a fire risk.

It Has a Bad Smell

I won’t mince words for you. Rubber mulch annoys me. It actually reeks. It has the aroma of heated tires on a hot summer day. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the smell of “Eau de NASCAR” drifting through my garden.

Rubber Mulch Has a Bad Look

Mulch that has color looks terrible. It should be illegal to spread orange or purple rubber mulch in your yard.

It’s challenging to get rid of

It is quite difficult to remove all the tiny rubber fragments from the soil in your flower garden. To get them all out of the earth, you may even need to dig up the top layer of dirt. 

Contrarily, organic mulch will naturally decay, so you don’t need to worry about removing it entirely from your garden.

Conclusion:

In this post, I discussed the biodegradability of rubber mulch, the pros, and cons of rubber mulch, and the reasons why you should use rubber mulch.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs), “Is rubber mulch biodegradable?”

What makes rubber harmful to the environment?

When heated for molding, synthetic rubber emits toxins into the air, which contributes to air pollution throughout the manufacturing process. 

The production of synthetic rubber is also linked to water contamination. SBR & butadiene are frequent water pollutants during the creation of synthetic rubber, albeit the frequency varies from nation to nation.

After 12 years, what happens to rubber mulch?

Rubber mulch is more resistant to the weather than wood chips, grass, hay, and some other organic mulching materials since it is created entirely from recycled vulcanized rubber tires. 

Rubber will eventually degrade, but not in a year, two years, or three years; it will survive for at least 20 years.

Is mulch made of rubber hazardous for landscaping?

Since rubber mulch is not biological, it does not break down and will not add organic matter to the soil. Chemical residues that might be damaging to plants are present.

Which mulch is the most secure to use?

The ideal approach for the garden is to use organic and natural materials. They not only instantly improve the soil in your garden but are also safe to use near plants that produce food. 

Compost, chopped leaves, grass clippings, or straw are all excellent choices for mulching plants directly.

How long does it take rubber to decompose?

50-80 years old

For example, leather shoes take 25–40 years to degrade, whereas rubber shoe bottoms take 50–80 years. 

Natural materials that have undergone extensive alteration, like rubber and leather, might take much longer. Given that polymers make up the majority of synthetic fibers, the process takes much longer.

References:

https://rubbermulch.com/blogs/rubbermulch/31581761-the-pros-and-cons-of-a-rubber-mulch-garden#:~:text=The%20Cons%3A,can%20be%20harmful%20to%20plants.
https://grist.org/living/ask-umbra-is-rubber-mulch-really-eco-friendly/
https://ecogreenequipment.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-use-rubber-mulch/
https://www.motherearthnews.com/sustainable-living/nature-and-environment/is-rubber-mulch-safe-zm0z14onzsor/

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