“Landscapes and playgrounds, landscapes and playgrounds.” It seems as though that those are all that recycled rubber mulch products are good for, right? So much so, that if you read that opening sentence the right (fun) way, it almost sounds like a rap song, endlessly repeating itself (with a great beat, of course) until you finally get annoyed with it, years and years later.
To be honest, I can’t really blame you for thinking of rubber mulch in this way, after all, nearly every single website on the internet that sells these products markets them toward usage in either landscaping, or for playgrounds.
But recycled rubber mulch products are more than just a group of two-trick ponies, and in fact we use them, and see them being used, almost more than natural topsoil or even grass these days. Say what?! Oh yes, you heard (or read) me correctly. These recycled bits of rubbery goodness have a place in almost any outdoor setting.
The most notable of these non-playground and non-landscaping usages began to hit center state around 1999 with the introduction of a new athletic surface for college football fields, one that would replace the worn out, costly, and extraordinarily painful AstroTurf that has been used over the previous thirty years (If you’ve never played football on AstroTurf, do a knee-first slide on grandma’s shag carpet, then let me know how that feels). AstroTurf was an inch or so thick, if you were lucky, and was laid straight over a concrete surface. Aside from somehow evading any violations to the American Constitution’s “No Cruel and Unusual Punishment” clause, there were many other downsides associated with “The Turf,” most namely the fact that it didn’t drain well, if it drained at all. So for football programs who were needing a new synthetic surface due to being located in a cold, wet climate, or for those wanting a cost-effective and less painful alternative to natural grass, the brand new FieldTurf was finally released.
FieldTurf, and its many, many successors, have continued the development and redevelopment of these synthetic grass playing surfaces ever since. Essentially, there are three elements to these surfaces: A bottom layer of sand, a middle layer consisting of recycled rubber mulch products, and a top layer of monofilament polyethylene blend fibers that look like blades of actual grass. This development has been revolutionary in more ways than just in terms of proper field drainage and budget-friendliness due to a decrease in upkeep costs. Because rubber mulch provides more cushion than most natural products, it has a positive effect on the athlete in any sport.
For American Football, it’s obvious to see the advantages over time of a surface that absorbs a fall. Less scrapes, less bumps and bruises, and helping in some cases to prevent what’s becoming a real hot topic lately: Concussions. But if you’re a soccer player, run track, or play baseball, there are other types of injuries that the use of these surfaces helps combat, the most notable being knee and ankle injuries. For a track and field surface, it’s fairly obvious how running on a synthetics, rubber mulch track is much easier on the knees than the traditional cinder track. Actually, the same goes for any athletic use when it comes to these new synthetic surfaces, including the footing in horse arenas.
There’s almost too many benefits to list, but using recycled rubber mulch-based products in Athletic surfaces not only provides a year-round, all-weather, cost-effective solution to grass surfaces, but it also helps to add more longevity to an athlete’s career by helping prevent both major and minor injuries alike. So next time you think “outdoor surface,” think recycled rubber mulch products. You end up saving someone’s career.