Landscape Glass Synthetic Mulch
glass mulch1
(Image credit: John M. P. Knox)

Using mulch in a garden is a standard practice for helping to reduce weeds and maintain the preferred moisture level for the plants. With the high emphasis on recycling, many people have turned to using synthetic mulch for their gardens.

Synthetic Mulch for Your Garden

There are three popular types of synthetic mulch:

  • ground rubber mulch
  • landscape glass mulch
  • plastic mulch

There is a bit of debate concerning the pros and cons of synthetic mulch, which will be highlighted here. One of the biggest benefits with all synthetic mulch is the lack of insects that it attracts, as opposed to organic mulch.

Ground Rubber Mulch

Ground rubber mulch is made from old rubber tires, which helps free space in the landfills. It takes about 80 tires to make enough rubber mulch to fill one cubic yard of space. It has been used on many playgrounds, as it provides a soft landing area for children. However, many have expressed concerns over chemicals leaching into the soil from the rubber. One study showed that small amounts of zinc can leach out into the soil, which is actually beneficial for alkaline soil, but not acidic. There is also the concern of finding pieces of wire in the ground rubber mulch from steel-belted tires. The metal can rust and become a safety hazard. Be sure to check your rubber mulch for the allowed metal content and look for a high percentage metal-free. You should also look for brands that are UV-protected so the ground rubber mulch doesn't fade to white over time.

Landscape Glass Mulch

Landscape glass mulch is another popular synthetic mulch. It provides a brighter look to a garden, reflecting light off the pieces of recycled glass. It gives a garden space a more modern look, so those wanting a more natural look wouldn't want to use the landscape glass mulch. Recycled glass is environmentally friendly and has no concerns about chemicals. It is a bit more expensive than other forms of mulch. Another concern with glass mulch is keeping the mulch looking nice, as it will show all of the leaves and petals that have fallen off the plants, as compared with them falling into a natural mulch and becoming part of the mulch itself.

Plastic mulch in gardens

Plastic mulch in gardens is another popular choice. The plastic mulch is much less expensive, especially in comparison to glass mulch. Plastic sheeting used as mulch is easy to apply, especially in large gardens, including commercial gardens. However, using plastic mulch in gardens causes less water to get into the soil. When the water runs off the plastic, it can also carry pesticides into other areas, causing a buildup. There is a significant amount of soil runoff associated with plastic mulch in gardens as well. With all gardening choices, it's important to find the one that best suits your needs, both for your plants and your budget.

Shari Armstrong

Shari Armstrong is a guest writer for Gardening Know How.