Rubber Mulch: For Playgrounds and Landscapes
Rubber Playground Mulch...
With the onset of spring and warm weather, gaggles of children joyfully scramble to their neighborhood, school, or backyard playgrounds to begin another season of outdoor fun. Swings, slides, ladders, forts, ropes, etc. will all be in full swing (pardon the pun). On the negative side of things, however, is the added risk of injury due to falls or other type of playground mishap. This is inevitable. Children play and children will inevitably scrape, bruise, or even break various parts of their body. This is why the need for adequate playground safety surfacing is so important.
In this hub, I will discuss some basic benefits of rubber playground mulch as well as provide a few ideas on how you, too, can incorporate the benefits of rubber mulch in other applications: namely your garden and landscapes.
Rubber Mulch: Why it is Such a Good Idea
As long as the vehicles we drive travel on rubber, there is almost an endless supply of used rubber tires (and other rubber material) from which rubber playground or landscape mulch can be manufactured. Let's face it: recycling is just the right thing to do. And if we can make our nation's playgrounds safer and landscapes more environmentally friendly in the meantime, then it's a no-brainer. Recycled rubber is flat-out smart.
Some of the greatest benefits of rubber mulch products are evident; such as:
- Recycling tires is good for the environment. Every cubic yard of rubber landscape mulch keeps 60-70 tires from entering a landfill.
- Little to no maintenance is required for rubber mulch, either landscape rubber mulch or playground rubber mulch. All you have to do is rake to level when needed.
- The long-term savings more than exceeds the initial investment. No replacement of rubber mulch is needed unless, of course, it gets scooped out and lost.
- Overall safety ratings for rubber playground mulch are unequaled. According to current American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) findings regardning playground safety surfacing materials, rubber playground mulch, when properly installed, outperforms all other popular playground safety surfacing. For example, the depths of safety surfacing needed to adequately sustain a 6’ fall height areas follows:
- Pea Gravel and Engineered Wood Fiberchips: 9”
- Sand: 10"
- Rubber Mulch: 5"
As you can see, it takes a lot LESS rubberized mulch to break a fall than other more common safety surfaces.
Rubberized mulch is also:
- American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant
- IPEMA (International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association) certified
- Will not rot, fade, or compress over time
- EPA approved
Rubber Mulch: A Final Word
Given its many positive features vs. other types of landscape and safety surface mulch, I feel rubber mulch is leaps and bounds (pun intended) ahead of their competition.
It is true that the initial costs will be higher than wood mulches and other playground and landscape surfaces, but given the lack of additional maintenance and annual replenishing, those initial expenses pay for themselves rather promptly; in many cases within 3-4 years.
The choice is yours. Pay now and get a better product. Or pay later, and more often, with a lesser product. For me, the reduced long-term costs and added safety of rubber seal the deal.