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Gardener learns about major landscaping mistake after sharing photo of ailing tree online: 'Not a good idea'

"You don't know where it came from."

"You don't know where it came from."

Photo Credit: Reddit

One gardener learned the hard way that rubber mulch is not ideal for ensuring healthy plants.

They posted a picture of their ailing lychee tree to the r/gardening subreddit to seek advice, wondering why it was looking limp and lifeless despite being planted just two years ago.

"Bought it 2 years ago as an air layered, has grown maybe 6 inches," the Redditor, based in Southwest Florida, captioned the post. "And now this. Is the rubber mulch a no no?"

"You don't know where it came from."
Photo Credit: Reddit

In no time, gardeners were chiming in with their opinions about the controversial landscaping product.

"Well, rubber mulch is not a good idea because it's recycled rubber," one said. "You don't know where it came from. You want a wood mulch that provides nutrients for your soil."

"Rubber mulch is more for playgrounds so kids [don't] get hurt when they fall down," another added. "A good organic mulch would be better. Also water, water, water."

Indeed, rubber mulch can be hugely problematic for plants. In addition to the issues detailed by the Redditors, the rubber will likely have been made from petroleum or natural gas. The harmful substances in these fossil fuels will persist after they've been turned into rubber, and those toxins can then leach into your soil if used as mulch. What's more, the extraction of petroleum and natural gas damages the planet through deep drilling.

Even natural rubber made from rubber trees is a leading cause of deforestation, as the World Wildlife Fund detailed. Trees are vital to absorbing planet-warming gases such as carbon dioxide from the air, and the felling of rubber trees will limit what forests can do in that regard.

A natural mulch or compost would have been a much better solution. However, gardeners are advised not to pile such material against the base of the tree — often referred to as volcano mulching — as that could damage the protective bark and lead to the presence of pests and disease.

Keeping your garden as natural as possible is ideal for a healthy ecosystem. That's why native plants are perfect, as they require less maintenance, herbicides, and pesticides than monoculture lawns and can bring pollinators to your green space.

After receiving the advice from the Redditors, the original poster seemed to get the message.

"Righty-O," they said. "Mulch will be removed in the morning."

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