Our Current Blog Articles
December 13, 2016
The Pros and Cons of Rubber Landscaping Mulch
Choosing the right landscaping products for your property depends on your climate, your budget and what you use your yard or garden for each day. At Front Runner Rubber Mulch, we want to make that decision easier for our customers. Here we have laid out the pros and cons of rubber landscaping mulch to help you understand your options.
When you first hear the phrase 'recycled rubber tires', you don't immediately think this could be something aesthetically elegant or sophisticated. The reality is that most people cannot identify the material used to make landscaping mulch just by looking at it. Shredded rubber mulch in a natural brown color looks almost identical to traditional wooden mulch. Unlike wooden mulch, however, its color does not fade from exposure to the sun and natural elements.
For homeowners looking to beautify their front yard and commercial property owners who want to make a good first impression, rubber landscaping mulch offers many benefits. You can create a uniform and clean appearance by using any of the available varieties of rubber mulch. Choose between loosely shredded mulch and rounded chips of varying sizes. Natural tones of brown or green can complement flowers and ornamental plants. For an eye-catching effect, use rubber mulch dyed in bright colors.
Some critics of rubber mulch argue that using rubber particles in a garden is not in keeping with a natural environment. By using rubber mulch for landscaping purposes, you are introducing a material that would not naturally be found in gardens; that much is certain. You are however helping the environment and reducing your carbon footprint by choosing to use a completely recycled material. If not repurposed, old tires will just end up in a landfill. Those who use wooden mulch are consuming large quantities of trees to produce a material that needs replacement every year.
One of the biggest concerns consumers hold about rubber mulch is safety. Is it flammable? Is it toxic? Can it be used around my children and pets? Regarding flammability, it is true that rubber mulch can burn, but this is also true of wooden mulch. A stray cigarette butt will not cause a fire, but rubber mulch can feed a wildfire or a purposely started fire. If you live in an area that is very hot and dry or is frequently on alert for wildfires, rubber mulch may not be the best idea. Take the same precautions for wooden mulch.
Rubber mulch is non-toxic and perfectly suitable for use around children and pets. Due to its soft and springy properties, as well as the ease of maintenance, rubber mulch is frequently used in children's playgrounds. Many commercial brands such as Front Runner Rubber Mulch use only non-toxic, lead-free dyes to color the mulch and are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. If ingested by an animal or child, the rubber mulch will pass through the system as undigestible material without causing acute or chronic problems.
Keeping Your Soil Healthy
Apart from creating the right appearance, the other primary function of landscaping mulch is the protection of your soil and plants. Rubber mulch does an excellent job of protecting the soil from drying out and exposure to extreme temperatures. The rubber chips will allow water to filter down to the ground, but they slow the rate of moisture evaporation from the soil over time. Rubber mulch also acts as an excellent insulator, preventing permafrost or scorching temperatures from penetrating your soil or damaging the roots of your plants. For hot and dry climates, rubber mulch will keep your soil cool and moist, lessening the need to water your garden constantly.
One thing that rubber mulch cannot do is provide organic matter to your soil. As wooden mulch breaks down, it will add nutrients to the soil. If you have concerns about the nutrient level of your soil, simply apply a regular fertilizing treatment to the rubber mulch. The solution will filter through the permeable rubber mulch and reach the layer of soil underneath without any problem.
Rubber mulch is more efficient at preventing soil erosion than wooden mulch. It is denser and heavier so less likely to get blown or washed away. You are less likely to need to top up your soil levels when using rubber landscaping mulch. If insects are a problem around your home or in your yard, rubber garden mulch could be the solution. Unlike wooden mulch, rubber mulch will not attract termites or carpenter ants. You can use rubber mulch to deter pests from your existing trees and shrubs.
Some people worry that rubber mulch will leach heavy metals or toxic chemicals into their soil. Rubber mulch does contain low levels of lead, however, according to tests run by Consumer Reports, the levels are similar or lower than the amount of lead found naturally in soil. Rubber mulch prevents weed growth not by poisoning the plants, but by creating a physical barrier to prevent them reaching the surface. Airborne seeds that land on rubber mulch will not have access to the nutrients necessary for growth. This way, only the plants that you want in your garden will grow and be protected by the rubber mulch.
Possibly the biggest pro associated with rubber landscaping mulch is the low maintenance requirement. Once you spread the rubber mulch over your desired area and rake it into place, there is almost no maintenance work to be done. In contrast to wooden mulch, the rubber mulch does not need the regular turning and raking. It does not disintegrate over time or require yearly replacement or top-ups.
Rubber mulch is highly resistant and suitable for use in all weather. High winds and heavy rain will not disturb the mulch. It is versatile enough to be used in playgrounds, sports arenas, commercial landscaping, driveways, outdoor showers, trails and ornamental gardens. Even when placed on driveways, footpaths, and other heavily trafficked areas, your rubber mulch will not fade in color or disintegrate.
One downside of rubber mulch is its relatively high cost compared to an equal quantity of wooden mulch. Fortunately, the initial investment will probably pay itself back many times over. For adequate coverage and the prevention of weed growth, you will need a layer of rubber mulch 1.5 inches thick. For a similar effect, you will need to put down 3 inches of wooden mulch. You only need half the amount of rubber mulch to do the same job. On top of this, rubber mulch needs replacement around every ten years, compared to the yearly replacement of wooden mulch.
We have found that for general use in most residential and commercial properties, rubber mulch performs well, requires little maintenance and is the best value for money. You can analyze the pros and cons of rubber landscaping mulch yourself and come to a conclusion. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact Front Runner Rubber Mulch for advice and information on the prices of our products.
November 15, 2016
Playground Safety Ideas
Whether you’re a parent taking your children to the public playground in Colorado, or thinking about designing and building one in your own backyard, playground safety ideas should always be top of mind. Our experts at Front Runner Rubber Mulch have put together the following list of the most important playground safety ideas for you to consider when designing or deciding on a playground for the kiddos.
All playgrounds, whether outdoor or indoor, private or public, need to follow several basic design rules to ensure the safety of the children using them. In the US, over 200,000 children are admitted to the emergency room every year with serious injuries related to playground use.
We believe that with the right design and preventative measures, we can minimize these risks. So let’s take a look at a few playground safety ideas.
The best-planned playgrounds take into account different age groups. Toddlers, kindergarten-aged children, and school-aged children each need to have their distinct area of the playground with age appropriate equipment to use. A three-year-old should not be climbing a 7-foot high climbing frame meant for older children. Similarly, you would not want to find two ten-year-olds roughhousing in a sandbox designed for small children.
Physically separated areas for different age groups will minimize the risk of injuries and allow all children easy access to the equipment meant for their use. Placing benches or low barriers between each area and signs stating the appropriate age-group will reduce potential misunderstandings and conflict.
Climbing equipment, platforms, and bridges should have guardrails and handles to minimize the risk of falling from any height. Such equipment needs to be designed so that the combined height of the equipment and the child should never be more than 12 feet from the ground. A fall from more than 12 feet, even onto appropriately cushioned surface, can cause serious injury.
Any openings such as the spaces between bars on guardrails or between the rungs of ladders should be bigger than 9 inches or smaller than 3.5 inches. This is to prevent a child's head from getting stuck in the equipment.
When planning the placement of swings, see-saws, merry-go-rounds and other equipment with moving parts, consider the overall layout of the playground. Place these potentially hazardous pieces of equipment on the perimeters of the playground and away from the main entrance. Locating them out of the primary paths will reduce the risk of children getting hit by moving parts while they are running from one place to the other.
Also, check this type of equipment for exposed mechanical parts such as hinges, where a child's fingers could be pinched or crushed. All hinges, pulleys, and axles should be appropriately encased or covered to prevent fingers, clothing or hair from getting caught.
Other physical design considerations include the appropriate spacing of swings. Each swing should be placed at least 24 inches from the next swing and at least 30 inches away from the frame. Ropes should be fixed solidly at two points. A loose, dangling line presents the risk of strangulation.
Metal equipment such as slides should be placed in the area with the least direct sunlight to prevent them from reaching dangerously high temperatures in summer. A shade structure is also a good idea for hotter climates.
The surfacing material is one of the most vital components in the overall safety rating of any playground. All playground equipment invites children to clamber, climb, swing, slide, jump and spin. Gravity means that all of these movements can potentially end with the child falling to the ground. Surface playgrounds with either purpose made rubber tiles, or loose fill material. Asphalt, cement, bare dirt, wooden decking or grass will not provide a safe and shock absorbent surface for children to fall.
If loose fill material is used, layer it at least 12 inches deep. Regularly turn it to prevent compacting, which will hinder its cushioning effect. Some loose fill materials appropriate for playgrounds are woodchips, sand, and rubber mulch. The surfacing material should create a perimeter at least 6 feet wide around the peripheral play equipment.
When designing a playground, take into account the ease of maintenance, the weather extremes it might be exposed to, and the frequency of use, then choose your materials wisely.
When using a playground, make sure to do a quick visual check of the equipment and the surroundings before letting your kids roam freely. On wooden play equipment, look out for splinters, rotting, or termite-damaged sections, especially if they are weight bearing parts. Metal parts should not have exposed sharp edges or rust damage.
Also, check for loose ropes or chains, damaged or broken parts and trash lying around. Sandboxes should be free from animal feces and bugs. Fences surrounding the playground should be intact without any gaps big enough for a child to squeeze through. If you see broken glass, a lot of standing water or any of the hazards mentioned above, report it to the authority in charge of the playground.
Much of children's social development happens through play. Make sure your kids know the basic rules of the playground, and they will get the most enjoyment out of their time.
Teach your kids to use the equipment for its designed purpose, with just one person at a time on the slide or swing sets. Remind them to respect others, wait their turn and not to push or engage in rough behaviors, especially on high equipment. Help them to choose appropriate clothing for visiting the playground, with no drawstring necks, necklaces, or earrings. Parents or guardians should also actively supervise children at all times while on the playground and put away distractions like cell phones.
Whether you’re a parent, school director, or in charge of Colorado municipal playgrounds, our team at Front Runner Rubber Mulch hopes you’ll consider these playground safety ideas before allowing kids access to any play area. Our aim, in the products we sell and information we share, is to minimize the risk of injury while maximizing the physical and social benefit children receive from playgrounds.
For more information on our rubber mulch surfacing materials, feel free to call or contact us today.
August 23, 2016
Tire Recycling Needs A New Approach
Since the invention of the motorized vehicle, humans have relied heavily on rubber tires. Unfortunately, this causes a huge amount of waste and pollution every year, which is why we think tire recycling needs a new approach. A typical tire is considered worn out and un-roadworthy after driving 50,000 miles. For most drivers, this equates to three or four years of use. If you need to change all four tires every three or four years, you can expect to use up to 60 tires throughout your entire driving lifetime. If each driver discards 60 tires, you can see how the number can easily multiply into millions of tires thrown away.
Most tires will end up in landfills. There, they will take up a lot of space and pose a risk of uncontrolled fires and the release of toxic fumes. A single tire will take over 50 years to decompose. There are many ways to recycle whole tires. You can try to find a way to repurpose them in your home before considering dumping them. Using them as sturdy outdoor planters and tire swings is what springs to mind initially. Alternatively, painted tires can be used to make everything from coffee tables to elaborate works of art. Some entrepreneurs are even producing sturdy sandals from used tires. If you can extend the life of your tires, do it! You will not only be reducing your carbon footprint but also setting a great example for your neighbors and kids.
Developing technology has produced new ways to break down tires into their component parts of rubber and steel. Old tires can be ground down into a rubber powder, eventually repurposed. This mechanical grinding produces very high temperatures, requiring liquid nitrogen to be used in the process, making it a very expensive procedure. Another high-tech option for tire recycling is devulcanization. This method uses chemicals, microwaves or ultrasonic waves to break the sulfur bonds that hold the molecules of the rubber together. One advantage of this process is the possibility of extracting oils, solvents, and sulfur in addition to the rubber particles.
After processing the used tires, how can we use the salvaged rubber particles? Thanks to its durability and elastic properties, rubber particles can be used to surface areas requiring shock absorption. It is particularly suitable for children's playgrounds, sports fields, and equestrian arenas. Rubber mulch is a great alternative to wooden mulch, gravel and other landscaping materials typically used in driveways, flowerbeds and gardens. Choosing rubber mulch allows you to extend the useful lifespan of a material that would otherwise be contaminating the earth.
The technology to recycle tires already exists. The final step in a new approach to recycling tires is to inspire consumers to use their power of choice in a way that benefits themselves and the planet. When you make an effort to seek out recycled materials to use in your everyday life, you are not only reducing waste but also often saving yourself money. Contribute to the recycling movement by repurposing your old tires and opting for recycled rubber materials when you get the opportunity.
August 13, 2016
Recyclable Rubber Products Provide Long Term Solutions
Recyclable rubber products are providing long-term solutions to landscapers, property developers and individuals. Rubber is a naturally waterproof, highly durable material resistant to wear and tear. We discard hundreds of thousands of rubber tires every year just because the threads have worn down and they are no longer safe to use on vehicles. Fortunately, there are many great uses for old tires in your garden and around your home.
All of this high-quality rubber is drawing the attention of eco-friendly businesses. There is huge potential to recover rubber from unwanted tires with the aid of affordable modern technologies. This collected rubber is used in a wide array of products. Gradually, people realize that there is no need to continue extracting natural resources or manufacturing them in a lab if we have so much raw material available to us already. Giving rubber tires a second life is an environmentally friendly choice and it saves everybody money.
On of the most popular uses of recycled tires is the production of rubber mulch. Rubber mulch is easy to produce and can be used successfully as a versatile landscaping mulch and as a surfacing material for athletic fields and playgrounds. When used in landscaping, the dense rubber chips can provide excellent insulation to your soil, protecting it from extreme heat or frost damage. It also suppresses weed growth, and unlike wood mulch, it will not decompose and leach nutrients into your soil. Just one layer of rubber mulch will provide your flowerbeds, patio or driveway with a long term surfacing solution. It requires very little maintenance, and due to the weight of the particles; it is much less likely to get blown or washed away by harsh weather.
Another innovation in recycled rubber products is the rubber paver. The rubber paver is a tile made from recycled rubber and commonly used in outdoor play areas and driveways. These tiles are virtually indestructible, making them an affordable long term solution. They do not require professional installation; anybody can snap together as many as needed to surface their area. They provide a shock absorbent surface, and are available in a range of bright colors, making them very popular for use in children's playgrounds.
In the United States, the biggest use of recycled rubber is in the production of rubberized asphalt. Rubberized asphalt a mixture of asphalt concrete and rubber crumbs collected from recycled tires. It is used to pave roads in the same way as normal asphalt is used. However, it provides some distinct advantages. Rubberized asphalt offers enhanced durability, and it has been proven to reduce the noise of highways. Incorporating recycled rubber can also reduce the overall costs of paving a road.
As the world discovers more about the advantages of recycled rubber products and technology advances, consumers will have more opportunities to choose eco-friendly products. For now, we can do our best to repurpose our unwanted tires and always to choose products made with recycled materials when possible.
July 23, 2016
Top Reasons For Using Rubber Mulch In Your Yard
Rubber mulch is the latest revolution in home landscaping. Although it has been on the market for over 20 years, homeowners now realize the full potential of this highly versatile and durable material.
Commonly used in playgrounds and athletic fields, rubber mulch is also perfect for use in any outdoor space. Get to know the top reasons for using rubber mulch in your yard and make the switch without delay.
The number one reason cited by many homeowners for using rubber mulch is how easy it is to install and maintain. You do not need a contractor or installation expert; anybody can just spread the rubber mulch across their desired area using a common garden rake. There is virtually no maintenance involved in keeping your rubber mulch looking in top condition. Unlike wood mulch, your rubber mulch will not mold or disintegrate over time. The particles are heavier, which means that they will not get blown away by the wind or washed away by rain easily. You may even use a thinner layer of rubber mulch while creating the same coverage effect.
For homeowners looking to create an aesthetically attractive area in their front or back yard, rubber mulch offers customizable color options. Choose from the natural hues of browns and greens or bring vibrancy to your property with bright blue, red or a custom mix of colors. The dye used on rubber mulch is non-transferable so that it won't come off on shoes or clothing. The color will stay vibrant for at least ten years.
You did read that correctly, after ten years of weathering and footfall, your rubber mulch will still look great. This color staying power is another key advantage of choosing rubber mulch over other types of surfacing materials. Unlike wood mulch, it will not decompose over time requiring a yearly top-up of new material. Investing in one batch of rubber mulch will keep your flower beds, driveway or other areas of your yard looking good for at least a decade. Imagine all the money and time you could be saving with rubber mulch.
Gardening enthusiasts love rubber mulch because it does not harbor mold, termites or diseases that can affect the growth of their plants. A layer just two inches deep will prevent weed growth, keeping flower beds looking neat and tidy. Rubber mulch is also a great insulator for your soil. It will prevent rapid temperature changes caused by frost or intense sun, and it will slow down the evaporation of moisture from the soil.