Saving Money on Other Non Necessities forum: Free Mulch

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Apr 6, 2010 7:54 AM CST
Name: NancyAnn
Jonesboro Ark
I know many of us here are gardeners. Mulch is essential to gardening. You can transform a yard full of red clay to beautiful organic black gold by applying mulch every year or two. And you cut down on weeds too.

I garden on a grand scale. My entire yard is a botanical garden. I have no lawn, haven't owned a lawnmower in about 7 years. (Repeat after me: We don't need no stinkin' lawnmower!)

I discovered years ago that tree trimmers are all too eager to dump their wood chips here, and they're happy to do it for free! In my city, they have to pay $40 a truckload to dump at the landfill (where we can go get it for free). I've made friends with a few, so I have a never-ending supply. I have three commercial truckloads on the property now waiting to be spread.

And it's a myth that you can't apply fresh tree trimmings to your gardens. People have sworn to me that it will burn up my gardens. HA!!! I've not lost a single plant because of my fresh mulch. If you're only applying it 5 or 6 inches thick, you have nothing to worry about. If you're were going to put it on 2 ft thick, then you might. But 6 inches deep doesn't get hot enough or produce enough nitrogen to hurt your plants. I'm in the South where summers can be over 100 degrees. I apply fresh mulch anytime I have it on hand, including in the heat of summer.

You'll need a spot where a tree trimmer can dump a big load of mulch. We have a vacant lot so they sometimes dump me a dozen loads. Some of it will have time to biodegrade before I can get to it, but most of it will be used immediately.

When talking to a tree trimmer, make sure you tell him you want it for mulching your garden and ask him to bring you stuff that is not diseased or pest-infested. And ask if his blades are sharp. If his blades are dull, the mulch won't be finely chipped; it will be in long stringy strips that tangle up so badly in the pile that you can't pitchfork it out. Asplundh dumped a pile here one day and it was stringy that we had to get a bobcat and move the stuff to the burn pile.

Pine mulch is my absolute favorite mulch. The pine needles don't shred, but the bark does. The pine needles lie beautifully and really looks great in paths. And when it's fresh, ahhhhhh, it smells so good!

Bradford pear mulch is my next favorite. It has such a fruity scent. I can step outside and sniff the air and know immediately if the tree trimmer has dropped me a load.

And don't forget to thank your tree trimmer every now and then with a case of beer (if they're of age) or with produce from the garden. That will keep 'em coming back year after year.

If there are no trimmers trimming in your area, check with your city landfill or recycling center. They often give away mulch for free. Ours has a backhoe and loads it too.

Apr 6, 2010 8:28 AM CST
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida
A friend gets mulch regularly this way. Since I have no room for a truck to dump, she shares with me Smiling
Apr 6, 2010 10:59 AM CST
Name: Janet Colvin
Z8~Beaumont~Southeast Texas
Proud member of
This is an excellent idea! Thanks for sharing your tips on getting free mulch. As you said, we all use it. And what better way to get it than to have them drop it off.

Apr 6, 2010 11:17 AM CST
Name: Nancy
Buffalo NY
Very good information. You should consider putting it into an article.
Apr 6, 2010 11:47 AM CST
Name: Janet Colvin
Z8~Beaumont~Southeast Texas
Proud member of
Another excellent idea Nancy!

Nancy Ann, can you get some photos of your mulch piles? Or even a photo of a local tree trimming truck? We can do the article without the photos, but as you all know, pictures say 1,000 words (or something like that!)

I don't think I have articles enabled here, but it would take 2 shakes of a lamb's tail to do that. And I'd be tickled if you'd like to do the first one Nancy Ann.

Apr 6, 2010 12:47 PM CST
Name: AnjL/Annmarie
CA Sierra Mts
yes! In my area there are always ads in for free mulch. Our tree trimmers are also charged to ump...and to recycle! Confused so easier and more cost effective for them to just dump in my yard instead Big Grin
All Things Hobby
All the coffee in Columbia will never make me a morning person!
Apr 6, 2010 1:23 PM CST
Name: NancyAnn
Jonesboro Ark
I'd be honored to do an article. Below is a picture of piles of mulch about 5 ft tall. I had to spread all that mulch last year so I could put up my privacy fence. He dumped it all on the fence line, which is where I told him to just before deciding to build a fence.

I guess most people around here don't garden on the scale I do, so not many people want a truckload of mulch dumped in their yards. One tree trimmer friend drops by regularly and asks if he can dump some more. He always lets me know when he has some pine mulch since he knows it's my favorite.

Thumbnail by ButterflyChaser

Apr 6, 2010 1:24 PM CST
Name: NancyAnn
Jonesboro Ark
I'll try to remember to take a picture of the mulch piles I have now. He brought them back during winter and it's been too cold and wet to spread them. And now that it's warmed up, I'm building gates for the fence and arbors. I'll get to the mulch soon I hope.
May 12, 2010 8:23 AM CST
Name: NancyAnn
Jonesboro Ark
I thought today I'd write the article, but I can't find where to get started. Can someone point me in the direction of the articles section for this cubit?
May 12, 2010 8:29 AM CST
Name: Janet Colvin
Z8~Beaumont~Southeast Texas
Proud member of
Give me a moment and I'll be right back with a link.
May 12, 2010 8:31 AM CST
Name: Janet Colvin
Z8~Beaumont~Southeast Texas
Proud member of

It was already set for any of the Cubit Members to write an article.

You'll need to click on the link above and you'll need to create a Bio for yourself. Then you should be able to write out the article.

If you have any problems, let me know.



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