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Popular Mulch Alternatives

Many people tend to think that mulch is mulch is mulch. The thing is, different kinds of mulches offer different qualities and purposes. Before getting the first mulch that you come across, consider what benefits they can give to your garden, landscaping, or playground. You have to think about potential drawbacks, as well.




Ever since gardening came into vogue, organic mulches have been sourced practically everywhere - from trees to beaches to forests. These organic mulches are sought after for their ability to decompose. Composting material can be anything from kitchen scraps to fallen leaves. When they break down collectively, they release nutrients into the soil and nourish plants in the process.


rock mulching

Pebbles, river stones, gravel - these can all act as rock mulch. They’re great for adding texture and color to landscaping projects. Rock is also a good material for forming borders to keep other, more lightweight mulch in place. With its sufficient weight, rock can withstand rain and wind while providing sufficient insulation for plants.




Gardens need to be blanketed in warmth especially during the winter months. Straw collected into hay bales during summer is typically spread onto the ground to cover delicate plants. They are also used to provide warmth for stable horses. A note of caution, though: dried hay can easily catch and spread fire. It is also attractive to insects and rodents.

Rubber mulch

rubber mulch


Widespread industrialization and consumerism gave way to excess materials that became problematic to dispose of. Rubber mulch has become a popular byproduct of scrap tires that threaten to clog already overflowing landfills. Today, it’s a good alternative mulching material that offers advantages to both playground (unparalleled shock absorbency) and gardening (sufficient insulation) issues, as well as providing a sustainable solution on how to recycle discarded rubber tires.

There are other  sources for alternative mulching materials, both organic and synthetic. Peat moss, sawdust, paper, pine needles, fabric, and plastic all contribute pros and cons to your garden, playground, or landscaping. It’s your job to weigh the benefits against the disadvantages before deciding on the best material to suit your needs.

Alan Weiman
Alan Weiman