Many people turn to rubber mulch as a landscape alternative because they think it will repel pests. Keeping pests away from your home and garden is important for your plant health, and keeping them away from your landscape also means keeping them out of your home in many cases. The truth is that rubber mulch might not be the best pest deterrent, and it also has several other issues that might make you want to choose another alternative.
Does Rubber Mulch Deter Pests?
One of the reasons why many people turn to rubber mulch is because wood mulch can attract bugs such as earwigs, cockroaches, termites, and carpenter ants. However, the Asian cockroach prefers rubber mulch to other materials.
While rubber mulch itself may not be attracting insects it will not repel insects that are attracted to other plants around your yard. If your goal is to repel insects there are a few other mulches that have been proven to be more effective.
What Is the Best Mulch to Keep Bugs Away?
Certain types of wood repel bugs and can be an excellent alternative to rubber. Cedar and cypress contain natural oils and chemical compounds, such as thujone, that are known to kill or inhibit many types of insects.
These natural wood products can repel bugs, such as ants, carpet beetles, moths, cockroaches, and termites. They will also help keep insects away from your plants too.
As wood mulch breaks down, it adds nutrients to the soil. It is also much lower cost than rubber mulch initially. Many people prefer the natural look of wood mulch.
Is Rubber Mulch Toxic?
Wood mulch, such as cedar and cypress, do a much better job of repelling insects than rubber mulch, but there is another reason why you might want to reconsider it, too. Rubber mulch is advertised as lasting “forever,” but the truth is that it does break down. It just does so more slowly, and when it does, it causes some major environmental concerns.
Rubber mulch was invented to keep tires from building up in landfills. It is made from ground-up tires that are coated to not expose you to toxic chemicals when you come in contact with it. The problem is that when exposed to sunlight, rubber tires deteriorate quickly. The coating also breaks down, allowing chemicals to leach into the soil and the water supply.
Some of these chemicals include plastics, heavy metals, and other chemicals found in rubber. It also contains things like paint and solvents. As rubber mulch breaks down and these substances enter the soil, it can be harmful to plants or animals. Rubber mulch has been blamed for water contamination and damage to aquatic ecosystems in the United States.
The bottom line is that rubber mulch does not provide the insect repelling properties that many people expect. It also has a big downside when it comes to the environment. Some wood mulches are known to repel insects and can be much better for your landscape and health.
Another alternative is to use natural stone, such as pea gravel or lava rock. These solutions provide long-lasting solutions, and they have better drainage so that they do not allow water to collect in pools and provide an environment for insects.
If insects are a concern, and that is why you do not want to use wood mulch, it is good to know that there are other alternatives besides rubber mulch. When it comes to aesthetics, nothing beats the look of natural stone or wood. Cypress and cedar are excellent alternatives that are better for the environment and will not harm your plants but will do an excellent job of keeping bugs away.