A nine-word question posted to Reddit about landscaping options sparked a conversation regarding a certain gardening material.
“Rubber Mulch vs. Wooden Mulch, which one is better?” asked the Redditor, and it wasn’t long before they received a pretty unanimous response.
“Why in hell would one [choose] to lay down ground up rubber all over their yard?!?” another user said.
It was a pretty one-sided fight, with responders listing the smell, the potential for the leaching of toxic chemicals into soil, and potentially negative health consequences as reasons to steer well clear of rubber mulch.
Chemicals that are often found in rubber can be carcinogenic, while volatile organic compounds also used to create the material can cause liver and kidney problems, central nervous system damage, and can make asthma worse, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
While rubber mulch was a hard pass from nearly all commenters on the Reddit post, many also lauded the benefits of wood mulch.
“Wood for woodies (trees/shrubs),” one user began. “Fine Wood compost blend or leaf mulch for perennials. Match the mulch with the plant. Please no rubber mulch!”
“It’s very easy to find free wood chips,” another Redditor observed, noting that expense is another downside of rubber mulch. “Most tree trimmers have to pay to dump it, so they’ll drop some off on your driveway happily.”
However, one commenter mentioned that all types of mulch should be avoided: “Don’t use Mulch, it creates so many [problems] to root systems, and rubber mulch is just the WORST thing you could do.”
While mulch can be beneficial for gardens in terms of retaining water in the summer and offering vital nutrients to help plant growth, there are times when using too much mulch can be detrimental to plant health.
For example, a common gardening faux pas often referred to as “mulch volcanoes” — a landscaping method that sees mulch piled high up a tree trunk — can suffocate roots, damage bark, and increase the chances of disease.
So while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for appropriate mulch use, rubber mulch is definitely not advised.
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