Erika K
Erika K
  • Hometalker
  • Wyckoff, NJ
Asked on Apr 9, 2012

I'm looking for recommendations on mulch.

MeemooAnnShelly Lasek Valentino
+39

Answered

I prefer darker to lighter and I don't want red. We've heard good things about cedar but we're kind of curious about rubber mulch. Many thanks!
40 answers
  • Designs by BSB
    on Apr 9, 2012

    We use black velvet mulch. Looks pretty and priced well.. But I look forward to when we build a home, the only thing going in will be rubber! I've read good reviews about it other than the price!

  • Erika, The black cypress mulch looks nice and so does Pine bark nuggets. The rubber mulch is nice but can get pricey as Becky above mentioned.

  • Deborah C
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Rubber mulch is made from old used tires, so it seems like a good thing to do. However, tires are no longer made from real rubber. There are some pretty nasty stuff in them. Rubber mulch contains heavy medals, that will over time leach out into the soil. May even kill your plants. Actually using rubber mulch is not as environmentally sound as some would want you to believe.

  • Sherrie S
    on Apr 10, 2012

    I try many things one time and give it a year or so to prove itself: I guess I'm negative but I have the rubber mulch in one large bed. Most places I used pine bark or cypress mulch. I will definitely never use rubber again. Pine & cypress are good for the plants. Rubber??

  • 3po3
    on Apr 10, 2012

    I put in what is called "gorilla hair" around here. I think it looks nice, and it is less prone to blow away in the wind than some other mulches. I would only use rubber mulch for a playground area. As other folks said, it can leach some nasty stuff into the ground. Definitely don't want it near any herbs, vegetables or fruit trees.

  • Judy W
    on Apr 10, 2012

    Here most like cedar because it doesn't attract termites like bark mulch. Only thing that gets to some is the cedar scent is domineering over any flowers you may have and so goes best with just greenery. No matter which is used, some sort of bug treatment will be needed. The advice against rubber I definitely agree. What I like to use is the river rock and the white rocks we can get nearby, I have also seen some terrific gardens using crushed oyster shells--they would add a great deal to a garden as they dissolve...

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 10, 2012

    If you are mulching a bed where things are planted, as far as I'm concerned the mulch should be organic material. Rubber contributes nothing to the soil. My personal preference is finely ground pine bark or hardwood other than cypress.

  • Garden Inspire
    on Apr 12, 2012

    Besides other problems already mentioned with rubber - what if you decide you don't want it anymore? Rubber will obviously not decompose like bark and will be more difficult to remove than rock. My mulch preferences are shredded cedar (insect repelling so it can even be great around your foundation) or compost. Both will add nutrients and organic matter to improve your soil.

  • Erika K
    on Apr 12, 2012

    Thank you all for your thoughtful responses.

  • Louisa H
    on Apr 12, 2012

    the place we bought has red lava rock for a yard. it is pretty good, but the plastic sheeting underneath had rotted away mostly, where necessary i remove it and paly down sand. all my gardening will be raised beds and troughs as the soil in our area of the PNW is reputed to have high arsenic levels (some believe this is why there is such a high level of MS here...) the beds will be placed as level as i can over the lava rock...

  • Lauren M
    on Apr 12, 2012

    Mulch: Anything placed on the surface of the soil to retain moisture and prevent weeds. Mulch does NOT have to be made from wood or bark; and although heavily marketed, such mulches are very problematic. Compost, shredded leaves, pine straw and seed and hull mulches (pecan, cocoa shell, etc.) are vastly superior to wood, bark and root mulches. Don't use rubber mulch-it stinks in the summer and I have concerns over the chemicals used in the production of the tires that are chipped up to make this stuff. (See this PREVIOUS QUESTION OF THE WEEK for more details on mulches and mulching.) http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=874 this is from NPR's website from the show "You bet your garden." He always talks about the dangers of wood and bark mulch...

  • Sherrie S
    on Apr 12, 2012

    I bought a mulching blower/vacuum. It does a great job of picking up leaves and making very nice free mulch for the beds.

  • Cathy T
    on Apr 12, 2012

    What I've heard on Mike McGrath's radio show is that rubber mulch is toxic for your plants, very probably has bad effects on your own health, and is prone to spontaneous combustion (catching on fire by itself). Thus, a very bad choice. Wood chips can promote the growth of fungus that can cause black spots on anything nearby, and can have an adverse effect on your garden as it breaks down. One thing he recommends is good is coconut mulch. Also, for most plants, a layer of shredded leaves. Best bet is to go to a trustworthy independent nursery as ask for advice.

  • Clay B
    on Apr 12, 2012

    Don't use rubber, in addition to Deborah C's comment, rubber holds in too much moisture, and can cause mold/mildew, which can be bad for plants etc.

  • Jean A
    on Apr 12, 2012

    I put down rubber mulch last summer. It still looks like new=no new work or expense this year. I have azaleas in that flower bed. They are fine with it. Bloomed beautifully this spring. I do have to water with Miracle Grow for Azaleas or acid fertilizer but that is not a problelm. Being 72 and somewhat disabled, I just like the once and I'm done for years to come.

  • Ginger H
    on Apr 12, 2012

    I prefer dark hardwood mulch over anything else on the market. Rubber seems so artificial plus it has got to get hot from the heat of the sun which defeats the purpose of helping to hold in moisture. Just my thoughts - really all about what you prefer.

  • Kelly S
    on Apr 12, 2012

    I use med or large chunk cedar bark mulch in my flower beds. The downside is the cedar fibers are like miniture needles when they get in your skin. The neighbor and I used dark red rubber mulch in the front around the utility box three years ago; and haven't had any maintenance required other than the stray dandilion. We can't have any plants around the box.

  • D
    on Apr 12, 2012

    Anybody know where I can get Euclyptus mulch in the Atlanta, Georgia area? It is the best mulch to deter bugs, has a nice scent and retains its color longer.

  • Tom S
    on Apr 13, 2012

    someone said they would only use rubber in a playground because the rubber could leach some bad things into the ground and they did'nt want to harm their plants?? Is that strange.., KIDS on the play ground with nasty compounds in the ground but not plants???? I'm just sayin...

    • Cheryl Blanchette
      on Feb 28, 2016

      @Tom S They have closed some playgrounds in Fl. It was found that kids were getting cancer from the rubber mulch. Nasty stuff with no redeaming benefits.

  • 3po3
    on Apr 13, 2012

    Tom, you got me thinking, but the difference is that heavy metals and other chemicals leach into the soil over time from rubber mulch, but it's not dangerous to touch or be around. If you let kids be around your tires, you can let them be around recycled rubber mulch. If your child is young enough that he or she might be eating lots of mulch, hopefully they are being very closely supervised.

  • Stephanie K
    on Apr 13, 2012

    My landscaper commented that cedar mulch has oils which are not good for flower beds??? I have used dyed pine bark mulch which stays "colored" for at lease a year. I only wish my landscaper could find a way to blow the beds without blowing away the mulch!!

  • Kimberly M
    on Apr 13, 2012

    I appears that Eucalyptus Mulch can be bought at Home Depot and Walmart. Also, I would highly recommend that anyone in the Atlanta area try Farmer D Organics. I'm not sure if they sell mulch, but it is a great little store and an excellent resource for anyone considering raised bed or eco friendly gardening.

  • D
    on Apr 13, 2012

    Kimberly have you seen Eucalyptus mulch at any specific stores? The stores by me do not sell it any more. They stopped 2 years ago. Thanks

  • Sally E
    on Apr 13, 2012

    I am a certified Master gardener in Florida and Live Nursery specialist at Lowes and I recommend Florimulch made from the melaluca tree. It is all natural and termite resistant and much cheaper than Eucalyptus and Rubber mulch. Its is a brown/natural color and has no artificial dyes added to it.

  • D
    on Apr 14, 2012

    Thanks Sally. Do you know if it is it available at Lowes in the Atlanta area?

  • Sherrie S
    on Apr 14, 2012

    Sally E, I just looked up melaluca and saw the following posting: This species is listed on the FL DACS Florida Noxious Weed List. I guess that is why they chop it up for mulch. I plan to try it soon. Thank you for the posting.

  • Sally E
    on Apr 14, 2012

    Not all Lowes in all states carry melaluca, I chose to order it because it was overtaking the everglades. Long story made short it makes an excellent packing mulch and is very good and affordable. Ask your Lowes garden center to start carrying it and they just might get it for you!

  • Tracy C
    on Apr 14, 2012

    I used the rubber mulch in my last home....I love it and I'm going to use it in my new garden. I only had to add to it after 3 years, mostly due to raking and cleaning. Keep in mind that the black or brown is going to create more heat. I'm going with the shredded brown this time. Look closely, some of it is in chunks and I don't think it looks as nice. It's not cheap either but remember it dosn't fade and break down and have to be replenished every year like natural mulch. One more thing - termites don't like to eat rubber!

  • Marlysa R
    on Apr 18, 2012

    DO NOT use rubber mulch-- it is toxic, and gets hot in the summer sun. It also doesn't contribute to the "welfare" of the plants beneath it, and should be banned from being purchased. Depending on where you live and your personal preference for a landscape look, shredded pine bark mulch is your best choice overall. Cedar mulch, especially the dyed stuff, doesn't break down well, nor eventually will it become part of the soil structure, as does pine bark mulch. Remember that the smaller the mulch, the less it will move away from its designated spot. Here in the ATL area, people often use pinestraw as their preferred mulch, especially on sloped or hilly areas. But it needs to be applied twice a year--- costly!

  • Martha S
    on Apr 18, 2012

    i heard it and rocks discourages bugs, snakes and other critters. i'm using rocks right now for my beds. i'm just getting started so the jury is not in yet.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 19, 2012

    Martha, I can understand why you might want to use rocks for their appearance, but they are not doing anything to help your plants, which is really the purpose for mulch. And, if you ever have to replace a plant, or want to add a new one, the rocks make the job a real chore.

  • Martha S
    on Apr 23, 2012

    Hello Douglas, I'm most concerned about ants and termites that I've heard could be a problem with bark mulch. You see I'm in Sanford. I'm just getting started so I need all the help I can get. Thanks for your input.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 23, 2012

    Martha, mulch should not touch your house, it should be 4 to 6 inches away from the foundation. That is enough distance to eliminate any threat of termites. (And it should not touch directly touch your plants, either. It should be a little distance away.)

  • Nyomi R
    on Apr 25, 2012

    I live in NH and have always used Cedar Mulch. It deters ants, termites, spiders, and other insects that you DON'T want in your garden, but the insects that you DO want in your garden (Aphids, Bee's, and other pollinators) don't mind it. If you have it at a reasonable size in chips, not chunks, it lasts a long time. Cedar Mulch, when layed properly, prevents weeds from growing. It is great at retaining the perfect amount of moisture and it does not heat your garden up during the day like darker colors would. Remember; the darker your mulch is, the hotter your garden beds will be because of heat absorption from the sun and this could affect how your plants grow. A lot of plants can not tolerate extra heat, especially from below. They need the sun from above for the photosynthesis, but the heat from the mulch should be minimal. I would NEVER use Rubber Mulch for ANYTHING! Not even for a playground. As said before, as the rubber breaks down, all sorts of caustic chemicals leak into our soil and wreak havoc on our planet. You might as well have your town come and dump all their garbage in your yard while you're at it if you are using Rubber Mulch. It's basically the same thing as a landfill. I think that Rubber Mulch should be banned. There is absolutely NOTHING organic about it. You might as well pour your used car oil in your garden and plant your flowers around it. Sorry about the rant on the Rubber Mulch, but I really do believe that it is a bad idea.

    • Capernius
      on Jan 28, 2016

      @Nyomi R Lady Nyomi, TY for the education on rubber mulch. I was totally unaware of all the nasties in the rubber. I am the same as you are on many other topics...

  • Tracy C
    on May 4, 2012

    I'm glad I came back and read the opinions on the rubber mulch. I should have known better. I havn't gotten out in the garden yet so I didn't buy it and I won't now. Looks like the way to go is cedar mulch for me. Thanks everyonegood tips Doug about how to lay it down, thank you.

  • Dfm
    on Jan 16, 2016

    be wary of community mulch piles...ie the free stuff... it may contain weed seeds, or noxious chemicals.

  • Capernius
    on Jan 28, 2016

    #1) Stay away from community compost piles. there is no way to regulate it, no way to know how many chemicals are in it & no way to know what it is made of...the weed seeds are trivial compared to other things that can be in there.#2) as Lady Naomi stated, Stay away from rubber mulch. and to think I WAS going to recommend it...*shudders* #3) only use mulch from verified sources. the exception to this rule is if it is commercially bagged & sold. if you know of an organic farmer with extra mulch, as him if he sells it & how much. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Good Mulches to use: Cedar is good. Most bugs do not like the smell & will stay away from it. it is naturally rot resistant, so it will last a long time. Cedar comes in 2 colors naturally...Red & white. no it is not white like white paint, it is just lighter in color. Cypress is also a good much to use. I do not know if it comes in anything other than red or not. I know that it is a high resinous wood, I know it is for all practical purposes, a waterproof wood(think of Noah's Ark....same kind of wood, different species, but same kind). The others I do not care for as they will rot away over time. the mulch I speak of is pine mulch, bark mulch(which is usually pine)... Mulch can be made from just about any kind of wood, but I think the 2 mentioned above, are your best bet

  • Shelly Lasek Valentino
    on May 6, 2016

    Cedar mulch helps to deter insects. But if you are in a climate with a lot of sun, it will fade quickly, and it does break down and needs refreshed year to year. The aroma is wonderful though! Rubber mulch is quite costly, but will last longer. I never used it as mulch, (we always used cedar) but many playgrounds use it as a base, including the school playground where I worked. My concern is, with the artificial turf being investigated for health hazards and it having the rubber subbase, I wonder if rubber mulch will also also be suspect to contribute to health issues too.

  • Ann
    on May 6, 2016

    Rubber mulch does not decompose, so it introduces into your yard a longlasting and possibly toxic probem. Not good for playgrounds, either.

  • Meemoo
    on May 6, 2016

    Cocoa shell mulch is toxic to dogs.

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