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Jake Goodwin - Sept 19 2020

Material Warehouse - Phone (800) 567-5358
 Email: support @ mymaterialwarehouse.com 

How to Install Rubber Mulch:
4 Tips So You Won’t Mulch Again For 12 Years

How to Install Rubber Mulch

Rubber mulch is a great alternative to regular bark mulch. Rubber mulch can require a little more involvement to install; however, the benefits of rubber mulch make and awesome long-term choice for landscape beds and playgrounds.

Rubber mulch can be installed in four steps when starting from grass or soil. Its installation is like that of organic mulch. Installation can be an easy weekend project, depending on the size of the area and ease of access to space.

This post will detail how to put down rubber mulch in any space. The entire installation explained, and you will find tips on the best most effective ways to mulch included below. Installing rubber mulch requires a bit of planning and a few common garden tools to install.

1. Measure the Area You Plan to Mulch

To determine how much mulch you need for your desired space, you’ll need some rough measurements. Two of the most common rubber mulch brands NuPlay or GroundSmart bags come in either 0.8 (19 lbs) or 1.5 (40 lbs) cubic foot sizes. You’ll want to measure landscape beds to estimate how many bags of mulch to buy. 

You can go HERE to read more on how to use the Rubber Mulch Calculator>.

Here is how to calculate how many cubic feet are in your mulch bed:

For a square or rectangle bed:

  • Measure length, width, and depth.
  • Multiply these three numbers together to get total cubic feet.
  • The total cubic feet will be whats needed to fill beds adequately.

For a circle bed:

  • Measure the diameter and depth of the area.
  • Divide the diameter in half and square this number.
  • Multiply by 3.14 and the depth of the area.
  • Your final number is the total cubic feet you need.

For an oval bed:

  • Measure the depth, length, and width.
  • Multiply all three numbers together.
  • Multiply by 3.14.
  • Divide by 4.
  • Your final number is the total cubic feet you need.

2. Mark Out the Edges of The Mulch Bed

After you’ve measured the area and bought your mulch, you’ll want to mark out the edges of the mulch bed. This can be done with lawn chalk or wooden stakes to create an outline of the site. This step is the most time-consuming and tedious. Make sure the edges are where you want them because it is hard to hide mistakes, especially if you don’t use edging, pavers, or stones.

Using a shovel or spade, begin removing the dirt and grass in your mulch bed. Make sure to wear gloves to avoid blisters.

Follow these steps to mark out a rubber mulch bed:

  • Mark out the edges of your mulch bed using wooden stakes or lawn chalk.
  • Starting from one corner, place the spade in the ground to your desired depth and work all around the edges.
  • Place extra dirt and grass in a wheelbarrow to be removed from the site easily.
  • Adjust edges as needed until the desired shape is created.
  • Rake the soil and stamp it down until you have a level surface.

3. Install Landscape Fabric Barrier

Placing a landscape fabric as a separation barrier between your mulch and dirt is crucial.  One of the most important parts of keeping your mulch bed looking new is preventing weeds from germinating. A landscape fabric or weed block reduces the amount of upkeep you have to do.

Picture of fresh rubber mulch install in front entry

Here are the tools needed for installing a landscape fabric barrier: 

Follow these steps to install a landscape fabric barrier:

  • Before placing the fabric, apply a weed killer (Skip if weed killer is not desired).
  • Place the landscape weed barrier across your bed and cut to size. 
  • If you are covering an area larger than the barrier width, make sure to overlap your layers by 12-18" to avoid any weeds pushing through the seams.
  • When installing around existing plants cut an "X" in the fabric where each plant will be, and pull fabric down around each plant. 
  • Use mallet to hammer down landscape staples to keep fabric in place

4. Add Your Rubber Mulch

Finally, it’s time to add the rubber mulch. This process should go fairly quickly compared to all the other steps.

Brown Rubber Mulch in Beds

Follow these steps to add the rubber mulch to your project:

  • Once the landscape weed barrier is in place, bring your mulch as close to the site as possible with a wheelbarrow. 
  • Carry the bags to where you want to distribute the mulch.
  • Once all the mulch is poured into place, spread the mulch with your rake until you have your desired evenness.
  • Place any rubber edging, pavers, or stones as desired. Then, step back and take in your work, a job well done!

(Source: Rubber Mulch Install)

While it is clear there are many benefits to using rubber mulch, the question of safety often comes up. Rubber mulch is safe for individuals and animals  by both providing a great non-toxic shock absorbent surfacing and antimicrobial landscape fill option less prone to bacterial and fungal growth. 

Three Tips So You Won't Need to Mulch Again for 12 Years

After putting in the work to install a beautiful rubber mulch bed, you want to be able to keep your landscape looking fresh for years. Rubber mulch has a much longer lifespan than traditional bark mulch.

So, if you keep the following tips in mind when installing your rubber mulch bed, you will have a beautiful landscape year after year.

TIP 1: Invest in Good Landscape Weed Barrier

A good landscape weed barrier will save you time and energy of having to constantly weed garden bed. It does not prevent 100% of weeds; however, most quality barriers block weeds from being able to germinate up from the soil. If weeds do sprout (most commonly at the edge of beds where the fabric ends) they tend to be small that have nowhere to grow. These sparse and tiny weeds are easy to manage and remove.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a landscape fabric:

  • Fabric is better than plastic – Plastic is less porous and prevents water from reaching plants and soil
  • Thickness: be cautious of using anything less than 3oz thick fabric as thinner material is more prone to tearing and allowing weeds to an entry point
  • Woven vs. non-woven – Woven barriers are much more durable and sturdier; woven barriers can fray if cut and left exposed.

TIP 2: Purchase ONLY Premium Processed Recycled Rubber Mulch

For the best results purchase only top tier quality recycled rubber mulch that has had all metals and abrasives removed and has been "painted" and color treated to seal in the color.  By purchasing the premium quality mulch from a recognized brand you will ensure that the mulch does not "rub" off and dirty your hands and clothes.

The old style of playground rubber mulch is was untreated and left kids with dirty clothes that wouldn't always wash clean. Be sure to ask if the mulch has been color treated and will hold its pigment for 10+ years. 

Also the safety and processing of premium rubber nugget and shredded rubber mulch removes any metal abrasives and keeps it safe for use.  The following are a few a few of the verified 

Trusted Premium Rubber Mulch Brands:

  • NuPlay and NuScape Premium Recycled Mulch
  • GroundSmart Rubber Mulch Nuggets
  • Rubberific Shredded Mulch 

(Source: IMC Rubber Mulch)

TIP 3: Rake/Blow Mulch Occasionally 

To keep your mulch looking new, rake through it when you notice that it has lost some of its color. This prolongs the life of your mulch by keeping it looking fresh and new.

Trusted Premium Rubber Mulch Brands with Tested Processing & Color Treatement:

  • Allows you to clean out leaf litter and other seasonal debris
  • Prolongs the life and look by mixing in deeper mulch with top layer exposed to UV
  • Renews the color without having to add new mulch
Red Cedar Rubber Mulch Landscape Beds

Summary

Rubber mulch is a great option for low maintenance, long-lasting mulch. Rubber mulch provides many more advantages than disadvantages. It is a great option to explore because it’s easy to install and doesn’t require replacing as frequently. 

Give us a call if you have questions about install, or are in need of bulk rubber mulch for your next project. 

Jake Goodwin - Phone (800) 567-5358
Email: support @mymaterialwarehouse.com 

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