Rubber vs. Wood Mulch


Comparing rubber mulch to wood mulch will help you decide which is right for you, or for a particular area of your yard. While wood mulch is more traditional, some of its properties mean that it isn't as long-lasting as rubber mulch, and you may need to replace it frequently. Although rubber mulch is more expensive, it may be a better way to spend your money, as it can save you money and time in the long run.

Controlling Weeds

  • Rubber and wood mulch do the same job for controlling weeds. They both block out the light that the weeds need. Both are equal in the ability to control weeds. The mulch blocks the light and stops the growth of grass, weeds and even flowers. Assuming you have a deep enough layer of mulch, you won't have to worry about weeds with either material.

Special Conditions

  • If you add water to the mulch to flood the garden bed, rubber mulch stays in place, while the wood mulch will redistribute to other areas as the water goes down. The rubber is heavier than the wood mulch, and has more staying power than the lightweight wood chips. If you live in an area with high winds, wood will blow away more easily than rubber.

Weather Facts

  • Rubber mulch holds up much better to the elements than wood mulch. You will have to replace wood mulch after a year or two, while the rubber mulch will remain intact for many more years. The coloring of the wood mulch will fade, while rubber mulch can retain its color for around 10 years without fading.

Fire Facts

  • Wood chips burn easily, but if a fire starts, a wood chip fire is easier to put out. The rubber mulch that catches on fire will burn longer and hotter than the wood chips and will be harder to extinguish. A rubber fire will throw off black smoke, where the wood will give off a whitish gray smoke that is not as toxic as the rubber fire.


  • Wood mulch gives the soil some needed organic material, while the rubber will provide no real value to the soil. If you worry about termites, rubber mulch is the material to use. The price for wood mulch runs about $1.50 a cubic foot and rubber can be as much as $15 a cubic foot, as of 2009.

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  • Photo Credit Pamela Gardapee
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