Rubber mulch, usually made from recycled tires, has become a popular groundcover for controlling weeds and creating a finished look that can last for years. But its relatively hefty pricetag can be a turnoff. If you’re getting your yard ready for summer and you’re about to mulch, here are some quick tips to help you choose between rubber and wood mulch.

  • Wood mulch is less expensive but it doesn’t last as long. While you might be lucky enough to get two years out of a wood mulch covering, rubber mulch can last up to 10 years.
  • Rubber mulch can be applied in smaller quantities. The recommended depth of rubber mulch is about 1.5 inches; wood mulch should be spread at about a 3 inch depth.
  • According to Consumer Reports, both varieties of mulches control weeds equally well.
  • Wood mulch will break down over time, adding nutrients to the soil. Rubber mulch doesn’t add any benefit to the soil over time.
  • Rubber mulch is heavy and will stay in place. If you’re putting mulch in an area where water run off is a problem, the rubber mulch will likely stick much better than wood mulch, which can float away. This heaviness is also an advantage if you use a leaf blower—the rubber much will stay put while the wood mulch won’t.
  • Rubber mulch shouldn’t be used in playground areas because it can contain small pieces of steel or nylon. It also, according to Consumer Reports, is much more flammable than wood mulch.

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