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Does Rubber Mulch Float Away

August 10, 2015

rubber mulch in water


Whether it’s at your garden, pathway, playground, or anywhere else, you’d want your mulch to stay put.


A big problem with traditional mulches is when rainwater or strong winds carry them away. This is particularly true of lighter mulches such as wood chips, sand, straw, pine needle, grass clippings, cocoa hull, and other lightweight materials. Cleaning up after a light rain or windy day becomes a tedious part of the mulching itinerary, when it shouldn’t be.


Fortunately, staying put is what rubber mulch can do very well. Many are inclined to think that rubber, the very same material used for flotation devices, is buoyant and will float when in contact with water or wind. But buoyancy has a lot to do with introduced air, and uniformly shredded rubber in copious amounts spread on landscape beds or playground surfaces will not react the same way as wood or other organic materials to normal rain or high wind.


Of course, proper installation is key, as with any product expected to perform well for years. Rubber mulch is best placed on landscape beds that have borders to prevent it from spilling onto other surfaces. Whatever its main purpose, it’s highly recommended to prepare the mulching surface ahead of time. If you’ve already used traditional mulches on your intended surface, it’s a good idea to clear them completely before installing rubber mulch, as any residual organic mulches can affect decomposition, abrasiveness, and even the presence of insects.


Because it does not get easily dislodged by the elements, rubber mulch requires low maintenance. This is another advantage over other types of mulches, which requires constant raking and annual replacement to keep them in tip-top shape. A maximum of six inches in depth is all it takes for rubber mulch to stay put for years, compared to double that amount yearly for wood mulching.


Another unique thing about rubber mulch is that its durability contributes to its fixedness. At the same time, its inherent springiness provides much-needed shock absorption for playground set-ups (when installed properly, rubber mulch can provide protection from falls for up to 12 feet).