TGN Community members, we’d love to know:
What’s your favorite source for free (or really inexpensive) mulch?
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We’ll compile your answers into an article soon!
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Check Craigslist ! I’ve had 2 deliveries of mulch perhaps 15 cubic yards each from people clearing lots for new housing. You can also contact your electric utility and get on their list. Remember a tip to the delivery people is always welcome and helps when you’d like more😀. It is also an opportunity to share with neighbors, because the pile is huge.
Local tree companies are sometimes willing to leave a pile of wood chips when they are working in the neighborhood. Saves them a trip to the dump, and dumping fees.
This one is easy! Rake the leaves from the lawn and put them into your garden beds. The neighbors will be happy you cleaned up your lawn and your garden beds will thank you for all the nutrients from the leaves.
Most of my property is heavily wooded. As anyone with trees knows, they like to reproduce, so I always have saplings to thin out, as well as dead wood and small branches blown down by the wind. I bought a small wood chipper, and have been using it to turn those into mulch.
For a different, inexpensive mulch, I have neighbors who grow hay for animal feed. They usually end up with more than they can use or sell for feed, so in the spring, they clear out the barn to make room for the new crop. This past spring, I bought a load of partially decomposed hay from them for $1.00 a bale. Some people recommend not using hay for mulch because it can contain seeds that will sprout, but after baking in the sun under tarps for a couple of weeks, any seeds in it are dead.
We rake up the leaves ours and our neighbours, stuff them into feed bags and use them to bed the chickens inside during the cold winter months. That’s my take on the mulch idea with a twist.
This may sound conceited but my mulch is never “free”…
I place a high value on my time😎✌
I make my own. I love maple leaves they break down really well almost like peat.
But composting/mulching is easier than most think just stir it now & then and you’ll love the end result.if you have a 4’x4′ area you can use pallets for your box.
If anyone lives in suburbia or near one, this is the time of season to drive the sub-divisions for bagged leaves.
Typically, after the garden is done for the season, the chickens will run through it and then a lite rototilling is done.
Now, with all those leaves, these are spread out along side of the garden. I then take the old trusty push mower with side discharge over them. This is like chopping things up in a food process, but on leaves outdoors. LOL It sure beats any compost piles I’ve ever done over the years. With the push mower, chopping the leaves up into finer chads, I make windrows. When the leaves are a nice 1/2-inch [12mm] to 3/8-inch [9.5mm] size, I’m done processing them. I tend to blow the side discharge when nearly completed closer to the garden. 🙂 This way, adding them works well. Spreading the leave clippings over the top of the garden is easy with a simple fan rake. In the tilled soil, it’s then easy to use a metal prong rake to stir them in so the wind isn’t taking the good stuff away. Now, over winter, these leave clippings will compost very nicely. Only a few hours of work from finding them to applying them really vs. baby-sitting a compost pile during the winter. Let the soil ferment with the compost vs. the compost is separate away from the soil and only added as a top coating. Plant roots can go deep, thus, if your compost is only on the top, plants do NOT thrive in their seasons. Now, if you like as a BONUS, you can add the coffee grounds and other items to the mix just before the metal raking to the soil takes place. So, make your entire GARDEN in the winter time your compost soil. 🙂 This is nearly FREE. Having a tiller, 2 types of rakes, push mower and vehicle to haul bags and bags and bags of leaves is needed.
Another nearly FREE or being FREE is living near a dairy farm that does things organically or nearly that way. Just make sure you have a trailer to hitch up to your vehicle, a few of those harbor freight FREE tarps to lay down just before getting the load place on the trailer. When you get home, shovel a majority of this off over the leave clippings in the previous posting. NOW, you know your garden layout better than anyone else, so some plants thrive on manure compost and others will not, so plan accordingly where to put the manure in the garden. FYI, grass clippings that have sun dried to getting brown like hay is a GREAT mix for the manure. These two will break-down in harmony as a well blended compost for the garden. Little to no work is involved once down on the garden soil pre-winter.
I ask my neighbors to leave bagged leaves by my garden gate and that saves them $9 a bag. There are 18 oak trees so lots of leaves. So typically 50 a week for them. I spread them on my garden beds and add half a bag of chicken manure so worms do a happy dance.
Usually in Spring they are gone and beds are ready to get growing with whatever with no work.
I put all the garden stuff cut up on a bed or two and coat that with chicken manure and then brown cardboard. It is often several feet high. I pour a couple of buckets of free rain water on it before the cardboard. Typically there is enough seed in the mix that I don’t even need to plant it after I remove the ornery bits that didn’t quite disappear in the Spring.
I haven’t dug my 28 garden beds in about 30 years. Clay soil really perks up with compost and wood ashes and MycoApply for the soil fungus to support root growth. If the soil is right everything grows but um carrots.
Here on the Big Island of Hawaii, we have county dump sites. There are various types of “trash”–garbage, recyclables, and GREEN WASTE. They grind the green waste to make it into mulch. It is free to use the dump and free to get mulch. They even load it into your truck bed or trailer. This is so great to encourage people to do the right things. Think about getting legislation in your area to accomplish this.
Every time I rake up the leaves or clean out the gutters I get free mulch for my garden. That’s about a wheelbarrow load a week. Also I grow my own tall grasses that I chop n drop along with many other garden trimmings which makes another barrow load a week and in peak growing season which is now it’s more like 3-4 barrow loads a week. Then there’s the compost which makes extra special soil conditioning mulch which is another 3 barrow loads about every 3-6 months.
I don’t use mulch but rather mulch with wood chips. In my area we can call a local tree service company and request that they drop off wood chips at our location when they are in the area. And this is free!