top of page

Rubber Mulch


       Over the years Olson Tree Care Des Moines Arborist has come across many trees with Rubber Mulch and Weed Barriers installed at the base. While Rubber Mulch sells itself to be “as good” as wood chips or even better because it doesn’t blow away, quite the opposite is true. Rubber Mulch requires a barrier while organic mulch requires none to do the same job.   


       First and foremost, weed barriers of any kind are just that... barriers. They reduce moisture infiltration, reduce microbe activity and in some cases limit gas exchange.      

       While Rubber Mulching may offer some moisture retention it fails in 1 key area... mineralization. The breakdown of nutrients into the soil along with aeration of the soil will never take place with Rubber Mulch.

Interaction between soil and air required

Soil Stress

A weed barrier is a root barrier

Picture of Rubber Mulch around Tree

Rubber Mulch

No Organic Mineralization

Tree Decline caused by soil stress.


       While an Arborist in Des Moines, Iowa can find a tree product a day to occupy their time and tickle their fancy...... many of them fall short of assist and are better defined as hinderance. 

       Horizon barriers come in all shapes and sizes... mulch ring, weed fabric and even artificial turf. While all of these can be put in for the benefit of the tree, they fall short in being an asset to the tree often causing Tree Decline by Soil Stress.

       Soil as an ecosystem is not so independent. This soil food web requires the movement of micro organisms, gases like oxygen/carbon dioxide and insects that bring benefits to the soil. This movement is often dependent on above ground interaction. Barriers in any form act as a deterrent to the natural order of topsoil mineralization, percolation and interaction. This deterrent can cause soil stress leading to compaction, poor soil structure, decreased microbial activity and much more. 

       Removal of fabrics, plastics and barriers of any kind replacing them with organic material is the order of the day. Misdiagnosis is often the treatment of secondary symptoms caused by soil stress. 

       Treatment of the cause is required when dealing with Tree Decline caused by Soil Stress. Arborist Tree Health Evaluation is recommended before proceeding with your tree in Des Moines, Iowa.

bottom of page