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Tips for Using Recycled Rubber Tires

Blog entry by Duke Mazzello posted 03-19-2013 12:32 PM 6920 reads 1 time favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Shredded rubber tires are a valuable product with a variety of uses for landscaping and creating safe surfaces for playgrounds and equestrian arenas. Rubber chips provide high energy absorbency, very low compaction over time and excellent stability.

Traditional mulching products compact and degrade, sometimes requiring annual application. By comparison, wood chips as fill for a playground must have an extra 25% of depth added to allow for compaction. Recycled rubber does not compact and also lasts for years. Six inches of rubber mulch will provide protection for falls from heights of ten feet, meeting US Consumer Protection Safety Commission standards. Playgrounds must also meet standards for the Americans with Disabilities Act. It must be no more difficult to propel and turn a wheelchair on the surface than it would be to ascend a ramp with a slope of 1:14. Rubber chips meet this requirement. Another advantage of rubber for playgrounds is that it comes in a variety of colors, including coated black, in addition to natural black.

Arenas for equestrian events have also been successfully surfaced with recycled rubber tires. The minimum suggested depth for this purpose is 1.5 inches. This application has been found to be safe even for jumping events such as steeplechase. It has an additional advantage in that it is not damaged in the way sod courses are by horses hooves. Equestrian surfaces are made of natural black mulch mixed with coarse sand.

Mulch for landscaping can also be made from recycled tires. Brown, redwood and black colors all work well for gardening. Rubber chips will not mold or rot like wood chips. This means they will not cause foul odors, or degrade into organic slime. The individual chips are heavier and are less likely to blow away. As small particles, generally 3/8 to 3/4 inch in size, water can freely percolate through the mulch. The rubber holds moisture in the soil better than wood or other organic materials because it does not absorb any of the water, and does not provide a growth medium for microorganisms or plants.

Reprocessing discarded tires into a useful product is environmentally responsible. Stockpiles of old tires can be a fire hazard and a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Disposal is difficult. Shredding millions of pounds of old tires into high quality mulch is an ideal solution.

For any project larger than a small residential garden, buying rubber mulch in bulk just makes sense. The product comes in one-ton super sacks. One sack will cover 150 square feet to a depth of six inches. Once the bag is unloaded from a truck the product can be spread easily with ordinary hand tools.



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Duke Mazzello

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