My Mulch Glue & Polymeric Sand Review (One Year Later)


Late last summer, I tackled a couple of outdoor DIY projects using some new-to-me products – mulch glue and polymeric sand. Today, I wanted to check back to give you a review of how things are holding up one year later. Consider this my official mulch glue and polymeric sand review.

But, before we get to that. Let me back up to show you what I’m talking about…

Sprucing Up The Side Yard

Here in Chicago, our houses are very close together. The north side of our house butts right up to our neighbor’s house and in between we have a small piece of land that we needed to maintain. It’s right next to our neighbor’s walkway.

We took a day and pulled all the weeds, added a weed barrier, and added hundreds of pounds of pea gravel. You can find the full tutorial and more pictures in this blog post.

How to apply mulch glue to pea gravel

In the end, it looked so much better and I was so happy that I finally took the time to improve this space, especially for my neighbor’s sake! I decided to take things one step further and I added a product called “mulch glue” to the pea gravel. Essentially, it works to bind the small rocks together so that they don’t move around. I had no idea if it would work and was shocked that after a few applications, the rocks weren’t going anywhere! You can find the full tutorial and more pictures in this blog post.

Adding Polymeric Sand

Our old stuff in between our pavers

I also tackled another bothersome area on the exterior of our house, this time in our backyard. When we first renovated our backyard, our landscaper added natural stone pavers and put regular sand in the joints. Sadly, it would wash out every time it rained.

How to install polymeric sand

I decided to remove all of the regular sand and add polymeric sand to the paver joints instead. I went with Alliance Gator polymeric sand because it seemed to be the best polymeric sand I could find that was available in my area.

Checking out our polymeric sand one year later

Unlike regular paver sand, polymeric sand is a jointing sand that binds together to form a firm surface. You can kinda think of it like grout between tiles. It creates a hard bond.

Once it’s installed correctly and cured, it’s durable and tough and it won’t wash out. It also prevents weeds from popping up and insects from burrowing, as they can in regular sand. If the polymeric is done correctly, it will look good for years to come!

How to install polymeric sand

It was quite the project to get all of the old stuff out and the new stuff in. (I even had to rent a huge compactor for this one.) I just followed the instructions on the product . But, in the end, it looked so much better and was nice and hard in between the pavers. Here’s the full tutorial.

My Polymeric Sand Review

Overall Grade: B+

My polymeric sand review

So, how is it now a year later? It’s actually looking really good! I would say about 80% of the paver joints are pretty perfect, looking almost exactly the same as they did last fall. This survived winter and multiple thaw cycles, so consider me impressed.

Random weed pop ups in between my pavers

I did think that the polymeric sand would completely block out any weeds from popping through, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve had to pluck some small ones, here and there, in the cracks throughout the summer. There have been nowhere near as many as before, but still a few. Some moss has also grown on top of the polymeric sand near our flower planters.

Some spots that aren't filled completely

There are also a few small areas that I didn’t fill with sand enough and those joints aren’t looking so hot.

When installing the polymeric sand, I was racing against the clock to get the project done before it rained and I didn’t have enough time to check each and every joint to make sure it was looking perfect. Because of that, a few joints weren’t filled high enough and have experienced some erosion.

Is polymeric sand a good idea?

Would I use polymeric sand again?

Yes, absolutely! If we ever do another paver patio (or brick pavers), I would definitely opt for polymeric sand from the start. This DIY project was so time-consuming because I had to clean out every joint. If I was starting without any sand in there, it would be a lot easier. If you’re laying a new patio, I would go with polymeric sand!

Using polymeric sand in our backyard

I didn’t give the polymeric sand an A because of the weeds that have popped up. But other than that, I think it has held up pretty damn well.

My Mulch Glue Review

Overall Grade: C

My mulch glue review one year later

Now, onto the mulch glue. This project is so funny to me because it has been so POPULAR! This video went crazy viral on TikTok and my mulch glue tutorial is still one of my most popular blog posts from the past few years. Makes me laugh to think that it’s such a popular topic!

When I installed the mulch glue, it locked together the stones and stayed that way for many, many months. Then, winter came along and to be honest, I didn’t really check on the pea gravel to see if it was still in place. This past spring, I checked it out and there were some places that were still intact, but other areas had returned to their normal crumbly state.

My mulch glue review one year later

As of now, over a year later, it’s pretty much all back to the way it was before I applied the glue. There are a few spots that have remained intact, but only random areas that definitely haven’t been walked on. You are supposed to reapply the mulch glue every year, so I would say that it lasted a good 6-9 months. If you had an area with zero foot traffic, I think it could last over a year.

Weeds coming through the pea gravel

I have had some weeds pop up through the pea gravel, but not a ton. However, I think that’s because the landscape fabric has done a good job keeping the weeds at bay, not the mulch glue.

Would I Use Mulch Glue Again?

My mulch glue review

Since I did this project, mulch glue has skyrocketed in price and now it’s very pricey. Because I have a fairly large area of pea gravel, I needed the gallon size which comes in at $80. Yowza. I don’t think it’s worth that price for what it did.

However, if you have a small area of pea gravel and could get away with the 32-ounce bottle, then it might be worth it. Which brings me to…

Using Mulch Glue In Our Backyard

Using mulch glue in our backyard

Even though a C isn’t the best grade, I did use mulch glue again on another spot in our yard. We have a large gap between our stone and our deck and before it was just dirt. I added some pea gravel to fill this hole earlier this summer. Well, the kids loved to dig and play in the pea gravel and it was always making a huge mess on our pavers.

I bought a small bottle of mulch glue and decided to use it on this small area.

Using backer rod to fill spots

The small stones were escaping between a gap in the stone and the deck, so I bought some backer rod to fill that area. Backer rod is a flexible foam that can be used for a variety of projects. I typically use it when I have a large gap that needs to be filled. I’ll place the backer rod in there and then caulk right over it. It works great.

Once I got the pea gravel just right, I followed this same tutorial to mix up the mulch glue. I ended up applying three coats and it worked like a charm. It’s rock solid and my kids’ tiny fingers can’t pry it up. I’m one happy mama!

Would You Try These Products?

2023 home upgrades

I hope my mulch glue and polymeric sand review were helpful as you tackle your own outdoor projects. Would you ever give these products a try? It’s always interesting to learn about products that might make a DIY a little easier…

Casey


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.