5 Best Rubber Mulch Mats of 2020 Reviewed

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Lovely garden with footpath in summer, stock photo

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Whether it’s a garden or a playground, unless your property has a proper mulch mat, you’re inviting problems rather than eliminating them.

Mulch mats are a much-required necessity in a garden, as they help keep the landscape healthy and allow the plants to grow properly. In playgrounds, they play an additional role in providing a safe surface that prevents injuries due to sudden falls.

Currently, there are hundreds of varieties of mulch mats available in the market. But the truth is, having so many options has become the bane in making a decision. That’s why we’ve gone ahead and reviewed five of the best rubber mulch mats of the year.

And to make the process easier for you, we’ve even added a handy buyers’ guide that you can use to improve your decision making. Together, the two can help you zero-in on the best mulch mat for your needs.

Let’s take a closer look.

Top Rubber Mulch Mats 

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IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS
Our Top PickOur Top Pickhstcstbl-table__imageYardwise Landscape Rubber Mulch
  • Attractive colors that last
  • Allows complete penetration of soil fertilizers and water
  • Reduces problematic weed growth
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hstcstbl-table__imagePlow And Hearth 51522 Permanent Mulch Pathway
  • Recycled rubber for better longevity
  • Resembles traditional wood mulch
  • Helps to conserve moisture and block weeds
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hstcstbl-table__imageNuPlay Playground Rubber Mulch
  • Extremely easy to install
  • Provides perfect coverage for any playground area
  • Doesn’t attract dirt and dust, and keeps kids safe
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hstcstbl-table__imageInternational Mulch’s Rubber Mulch Black
  • Extremely affordable product
  • EPA approved, and IPEMA certified
  • Perfectly safe for resurfacing playgrounds
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hstcstbl-table__imageNuScape 100% Recycled Rubber Mulch
  • Dust repellent product
  • Certified by IPEMA
  • Comes with a decade-long color guarantee
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Resilient rubber coating for sports fields, jogging and cycling paths

  1. Yardwise Landscape Rubber Mulch

If gardening or landscaping is your reason for buying a mulch mat, don’t look further than the Landscape Rubber Mulch from Yardwise. From killing weeds to improving the appearance of your property, this rubber mulch mat is a must-have for all those interested in preserving the beauty of their landscape.

Sale
Yardwise Rubber Landscape Mulch - Multiple Colors Brown
  • YardWise Landscape Rubber Mulch adds beautiful...
  • Allows 100% of Water and Fertilizer to reach the...

Why Did We Like It?

Actually, the question should be rephrased to “How could we not like it?” Appealing to the eyes, excellent in quality and durable in construction, this is a product that’s much loved by gardeners and garden owners alike.

As already mentioned, it’s color quality is exceptional and doesn’t easily fade away, come rain or shine. In fact, in this context, we must say that it has been tested to work well in nearly all kinds of weather conditions.

Plus, the rubber mulch is close to 100% free of steel, yet pretty substantial, which means it will not be blown away by even strong winds. It’s estimated that this mulch is made from almost 2000 pounds of pellets, and one single mat covers nearly 450 square feet.

Finally, we must mention that the rubber used in this mulch mat is safe for plants, but doesn’t allow weeds to grow. What’s more, it doesn’t attract any insects, which makes it perfect for use in the landscaping process.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Honestly, the only thing about this product that we found to be somewhat problematic is its initial smell, which reminds us of old rubber tires. But considering that this odor fades away with time, we believe that this isn’t reason enough to ignore such a product.

Pros
  • Doesn’t attract insects
  • Stops weed growth
  • Low-maintenance product
  • Preserves color for many years
Cons
  • Initial disagreeable smell
  1. Plow And Hearth Permanent Mulch Pathway

As usual, we believe in leading with the best, so for the first item on the list, we have the Permanent Mulch Pathway from Plow And Hearth. And as everyone in the industry is well aware, Plow and Hearth is among the best rubber mulch mat manufacturers of today. Let’s take a look at what this product has to offer.

Plow & Hearth 55632 Recycled Rubber Permanent Garden Mulch Border, 120...
  • Recycled, shredded rubber tires
  • Natural-looking weed blocker allows air/water...

Why Did We Like It?

We’ve seen many mulch mats in our tests, but the 51522 beats them all, and by quite a margin. High in quality, the defining feature of this product is the enhanced durability and extended longevity that it boasts of.

Not only that, when it comes to aesthetics, even there this mat is a clear winner. Incorporating a traditional wooden mulch appearance, this mat can improve the beauty of your garden or a park by a long shot.

The next thing that must be mentioned is the low maintenance of the product. This means you can install the mat and quit worrying about it, and rest assured that it’s doing the job well. Such worry-free operation is hard to find in a product these days.

Finally, the mats allow complete air and water penetration and help to prevent weeds from growing. Plus, it’s easy to install and you can easily take care of the installation process yourself without any professional help.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Despite the excellent quality of the product, we’re afraid these mats are seriously overpriced and might not suit everyone’s budget. So, if you’re searching for a durable yet affordable option, it’s best that you look elsewhere.

Pros
  • Easy and simple to install
  • Lasts long without much maintenance
  • Doesn’t get discolored easily
  • Helps to prevent weed growth
Cons
  • Overpriced to some extent
  1. NuPlay Playground Rubber Mulch

If the previous product was the best for landscaping purposes, then this one is best for playgrounds. The NuPlay Rubber Mulch ensures that kids don’t fall and hurt themselves during play. Also, it’s a quality product that can enhance the beauty of any playground and make it more appealing for the kiddos.

Why Did We Like It?

When it comes to playground rubber mulch, we recommend the best; after all, it’s the kids’ safety at stake. That’s why we chose this product, as it has a massive cover of 300 square feet for every 75 cubic feet of the mulch.

What’s more, we were more than impressed with this mulch’s drainage properties. When you’re using it, you can always be certain that the grass is greener on the underside, yet there are no weeds or unwanted growth.

In addition to that, it doesn’t allow dust to accumulate at all. This is a necessary attribute as kids kicking up a lot of dust can lead to respiratory problems. But this mulch ensures that your kids remain free of dirt.

And to round things off, it is 99.9% free of steel and is 100% safe for children. Plus, it’s easy to install and doesn’t get damaged even after years of playful use. In short, one of the better rubber mulches on the market.

What Could’ve Been Better?

The price, which is a bit high, in our opinion. Nevertheless, we suggest you only opt for the best when it comes to the little ones’ safety. This way, you’ll be able to rest easy while the kids are playing.

Pros
  • Has unmatched coverage
  • Perfectly safe for kids
  • Doesn’t attract insects and harmful pests
  • Dust repellent material
Cons
  • Slightly pricey product
  1. International Mulch’s Rubber Mulch Black

For the fourth offering on our list, we have the Rubber Mulch Black from International Mulch, yet another quality provider in the industry. Entirely safe, affordable and with impeccable quality parameters, this is mulch for those who are looking for a product that performs, yet doesn’t require you to break the bank.

International Mulch Company NS8RW Redwood Ground Cover, 0.8 cu. ft
  • Made from 100% recycled rubber
  • Ideal for playgrounds and commercial landscaping...

Why Did We Like It?

Think a bit: a product that’s tested for the highest safety parameters when it comes to rubber mulches is undoubtedly worth buying. This product’s impeccable safety levels make it suitable for resurfacing playgrounds and protecting kids from fall injuries.

However, don’t think that it’s suitable for use in playgrounds only, for it’s equally applicable to landscaping and gardening tasks. The mulch doesn’t absorb moisture but preserves it for a long time in the soil. What’s more, it prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi.

Despite being a 100% weed repellant, the product doesn’t harm desirable garden growth. This makes it an excellent addition to any garden which needs protection from unwanted weeds.

Also, there’s the fact that this mulch is made from 100% recycled rubber tires. This means it’s environment friendly, yet easy on the pocket. Now that’s a combination other mulches should aspire to.

What Could’ve Been Better?

We found that the only pain-point is that it tends to become a bit too hot during the summer months. We guess this is on account of the recycled rubber tires it’s made of. So, take care when the sun’s out!

Pros
  • Certified by the highest safety authorities
  • Stops bacterial and fungal growth
  • 100% recycled product
  • Safe for use in gardens and playgrounds
Cons
  • Tends to heat up a bit in the sun
  1. NuScape 100% Recycled Rubber Mulch

For the last product on the list, we have yet another 100% recycled rubber mulch that’s proven to serve. Equally performing on a garden or a playground, this is a long-lasting product that lives up to the NuScape name.

Why Did We Like It?

One of the most significant problems that users face with mulches is that of discoloration, but with this one, you don’t have to worry about a thing. Because this is perhaps the only mulch in the market that comes with a 10-years color guarantee.

Which means you can use it for years without worrying about mulch discoloration. What’s more, it’s virtually weatherproof, and you can use it with ease, come rain or shine. Very few mulches can offer that guarantee.

In addition to the above, it’s a dust repellent product, and doesn’t get dirty quickly. Plus, it also doesn’t attract harmful pests that might prove detrimental to the surroundings and it’s human occupants.

Coming back to the color, the intense black hue of this product is sure to attract envious glances from neighbors looking into your garden. Couple that with the excellent drainage capabilities, and you’ve got mulch that’s world-class by any standards.

What Could’ve Been Better?

The only thing we’d like changed in the product is it’s price, which we think is slightly over the average range. But then again, this is something you’d expect with a mulch that comes with a 10-years guarantee. So, we’re not complaining.

Pros
  • Massive 10-years color guarantee
  • IPEMA Certified
  • Simple to install and use
  • Perfectly dust and insect repellent
Cons
  • Above-average price may not be affordable for all

Closeup wooden pathway in the grass garden detail art

Rubber Mulch Mats Buyers’ Guide

Now that we have the five best rubber mulch mats out of the way, you might think it’s time to go out and buy the best one. As always, the task is easier said than done, and there’s more to consider if you intend to end up with the best product for your needs.

Apart from the quality and price, there are several other factors to keep in mind when buying mulch mats. You’ve got to consider the purpose you’re going to use it for, the price, and the safety factors, among other things.

There’s a lot to be done before we can settle on the best rubber mulch mat. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the factors that determine which one is for you to buy.

The Usage Purpose

First and foremost, you’ll need to consider which area, and for what purpose you’re going to be using the mat for. Mulch mats usually come in either square pieces that are best for smaller spaces, whereas the rolled variety is more suitable for covering larger ground.

Also, you need to be sure that you can cut the material and shape it according to the landscape. Mulch mats are usually placed in gardens, around water bodies or trees, and as a protective covering on playgrounds.

This means you’ll have to ensure that the one you get is suitable for whatever use you intend for it. If unsure, it’s best to go with a mulch mat that can suffice for most general purposes, and then work from there.

The Mat Material

Next up for consideration is the mat material, which can be made from various substances such as plastics, hemp-fiber, and wood chips. However, we suggest going with rubber mulch for the following reasons.

First of all, rubber mulch is easy to install and use, and can be done by anyone. Apart from that fact, rubber mats don’t need much maintenance and can last for years without special care. They are built for rough use, so durability is never a problem.

Next, rubber mulches are cushiony and can protect children from falls. This makes them perfect for use in playgrounds. Also, their water-retentive capabilities make them ideal for gardening purposes as well.

The only thing that may prohibit you from buying rubber mulch mats is the cost, which is always a bit high as compared to that of other products. But we suggest you consider this as a necessary investment and go for the best possible material.

Safety Factors

Next, we need to take a look at the safety considerations that come with mulch mats. Whether you’re using mulch in the garden or at the playground, user safety is paramount.

So, before buying rubber mulch, make sure it’s free of toxic chemicals that might pose you or your loved ones any harm. Also, toxic mulch may damage the flora of the area it’s used in, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Also, always go with mulches that are fire-resistant. That way, you’ll be sure that you’re not inviting a fire hazard to lives and property. Considering all these factors, we suggest you go for the softer products in the market, as they guard against falls.

The Amount Of Steel

Since rubber mulch mats are mostly made from recycled tires, they are environment friendly. But, in case steel-rimmed tires are used for the purpose, the mulch may have steel wire fragments mixed with it. This can lead to severe accidents, especially with kids.

That’s why, when buying rubber mulch mats, be sure to go with one that is at least 99% free of steel. This way, you stand to ensure the safety of all who use the mulch.

Mulch Maintenance

Finally, you need to take into consideration mulch maintenance. And rubber mulches win in this respect as well. They are inherently durable and require little to no maintenance. However, this is only true for good quality mulches, so take care to read the label carefully.

Plus, good rubber mulch is weatherproof, heatproof, and dust resistant. So, you need to look at all these qualities before going in for the buy.

The way in the park with green grass. Two ways

Verdict

And we’re done! You now have all the information you need to make the best decision regarding rubber mulch mats. Before we go, however, we’ll take some time to share our favorites.

For the best overall mulch mat, go with the one from Plow and Hearth. Though a bit costly, it’s worth the money. However, if you’re looking for landscaping mulch specifically, we suggest you opt for the Yardwise Landscape Rubber Mulch. And for playground use, nothing beats the NuPlay Playground Rubber Mulch.

And on that note, we’ll take your leave. Happy mulching!

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