Rubber Mulch vs. Organic Mulch

red rubber mulch

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, choosing the right mulch for your plants can be a daunting task. There are a variety of options available on the market, but two of the most popular ones are rubber mulch and organic mulch. Rubber mulch is made from recycled tires, while organic mulch is derived from natural materials like leaves, straw, and bark. While rubber mulch is a cheaper alternative, organic mulch is considered by many to be the better option. Letโ€™s take a look at the pros and cons of both types of mulch, and why organic mulch is the smarter choice for your garden.

What Is Rubber Mulch?

Rubber mulch is a product made almost exclusively from recycled tires that have been shredded and ground into small pieces. It is a popular choice for playgrounds, as it provides a soft surface for children to play on. A lesser-known or less-common use for rubber mulch is as a landscaping mulch for gardens in residential yards. Rubber mulch is known for its long-lasting quality, resistance to insects and weeds, and low-maintenance requirements. It is available in a variety of colors and is popular with those who want a consistent look in their garden.

Of course, the most popular reason homeowners may choose rubber mulch is due to its unique appearance. If you want your yard to stand out, few things can get the job done quite like rubber mulch. These mulches can be dyed and treated to fit almost any aesthetic. Rubber mulches can be a variety of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures, giving you many options to customize the look of your gardens. Though they are not without their drawbacks, rubber mulches provide many benefits to any yard.

rubber mulch up close

Pros & Cons Of Rubber Mulch

One of the key benefits of rubber mulch is that it lasts longer than organic mulch because it doesn’t decompose. It also doesn’t attract insects, pests, or rodents like natural mulch can. Since rubber mulch is made from recycled materials, it is also an environmentally friendly option. However, rubber mulch does have some downsides. Unlike organic mulch, it doesn’t add nutrients to the soil, which can harm the plants in your garden. It also has a tendency to retain heat, which can damage the roots of your plants and even cause your lawn to dry out over time. It can also be difficult to change rubber mulch out every season, but this is not needed as often as natural mulch needs to be changed. Below are some of the ket pros and cons to keep in mind when it comes to rubber mulch:

Pros:

  • More options/colors
  • Less maintenance
  • Longer lasting
  • Prevents weeds

Cons:

  • Retains excess heat
  • Can leach chemicalsย 
  • Doesnโ€™t improve soil
  • Higher initial costs
Premium Dark Mulch

What Is Organic Mulch?

Organic mulch is a product made from natural materials like leaves, straw, bark, or compost. Of course, the most popular option that you have likely seen in many yards is made from wood chips that are composed of hardwood and bark shavings from trees. These mulches are popular among gardeners because they add nutrients to the soil, improve air circulation, and help prevent weed and pest growth. Because it decomposes, organic mulch does need to be replaced regularly (at least once per year), but the benefits of having a mulch in your garden that actually improves the soil quality can not be underestimated.ย 

Red mulch and lighter mulch

Pros & Cons Of Organic Mulch

Organic mulch helps keep the soil moist, which is excellent for plants that need consistent soil moisture like tomatoes or cucumbers. This is because natural mulch retains moisture and delivers it to the soil slowly, sustaining your soil over a longer period of time. These mulch types also suffocate weeds, which is one of the primary reasons people add mulch to their yards. Unfortunately, organic mulches will need to be replaced and replenished, and they can occasionally attract pests to your yard if they retain too much moisture and become infected with a fungus or disease.ย 

Another key difference between organic mulch and rubber mulch is that organic options can help prevent soil erosion and crusting. When it comes to improving your soil rather than just blocking out weeds, there is no question that organic mulch is the superior choice! The pros and cons of natural mulch below will help you make the right decision for your yard:

Pros:

  • Improved soil quality
  • Erosion protection
  • Moisture retention
  • Weed control

Cons:

  • Needs to be replaced
  • Higher maintenance needs
  • May attract pests/disease
  • Fewer unique aesthetics
Volcanic Rock As An Inorganic Mulch

Other Inorganic Mulches

Besides rubber mulch, various other inorganic mulches can be used in gardens that do not decompose. Some examples include rock, plastic, gravel, landscape fabric, and more. These mulches have their advantages, such as durability and the ability to control soil erosion, and all inorganic mulches will last longer than organic mulches. However, these options have fewer benefits than organic mulches in terms of nurturing the soil and supporting plant growth. Homeowners enjoy the variety of styles they get from inorganic mulches, but there is no substitute for the real thing!

Dark Mulch pulled by a wagon

Why Organic Mulch Is Better

Choosing the right mulch for your garden can be a challenging process. However, when it comes to rubber mulch vs. organic mulch, organic mulch is undoubtedly the better option. Although rubber mulch is long-lasting and low-maintenance, it does not improve soil quality or bring any nutrients to plants that grow in it. Organic mulch, while requiring consistent replacement, is an eco-friendly option that improves soil quality, adds nutrients to plants, and helps control weed and pest growth. Choosing organic mulch is a smart investment of time and resources that will benefit your garden and plants in a way that rubber mulch simply can not compete with. Call Elite Lawn Care today for more information on premium mulch for your yard!ย 

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