What & where is the best, enexpensive, mulch

Nashonii(6 Ozarks)July 21, 2006

When we bought this nice acre, I wanted it all garden. My plans were so large that I couldn't afford to much it all, so I didn't mulch any. NOW What is the best place to get good mulch?

Somewhere in our wanderings, we came across the county, (or city) mulch sign. Is that free mulch? (I need a lot!)

Have you found a good place to get,(or buy), inexpensive mulch around here?


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You might try contacting the local utilities companies and see what they do with the shredded trees they get from all the trimming they do along the fence rows. I got tons of it a few years ago when they were working in our area. I am referring to the rural electric companies.

Also call the city nearest to you. Sometimes they have free mulch (you pick it up) sites that homeowners take their leaves to.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 6:21AM
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Hi Diann - Don't give up yet. Our recycling center has low-cost mulch but I don't have a truck to go get it so I called around to different tree-removal/trimming services until I found one that would deliver a truck load of freshly chipped trees for free. No cost for the mulch or delivery. He was able to tell me what type of trees they would be cutting so I could sort of choose whether to take what they were cutting that day or wait for something better. I got mine in late winter so there were no leaves mixed in. Freshly cut trees are "green" but I haven't had any trouble mulching with it around shrubs and perennials. I always put a few layers of newspaper sheets under it so that may give it some time to dry before it mixes with the soil.
The only drawback is that they will bring a BIG load and some people wouldn't have room. Sounds like you DO so that shouldn't be a problem. Try to have it dumped close to where you'll be using it so you won't have to haul it too far.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2006 at 8:48AM
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Hi Diann,

As far as mulch goes there isn't really a one size fits all type if you know what I mean. I personally don't get real carried away with it but I do mulch my evergreens with pine needles & pine bark. I simply don't have a yellowing problem now that I do this. Of course plants that don't like to much acidity won't like this. Shredded wood most likely would be better in that case. I wonder though if shredded oak might over time acidify the soil? It does have a lot of tannic acid in it.

Anyway good luck with your gardening.


    Bookmark   August 2, 2006 at 11:56AM
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robiniaquest(z6 MO)

I know this might sound kind of nuts, but I use a lot of oak leaves. If you have woods, it's a great solution. I read a lot against this when I first started gardening...too much carbon, don't break down well. But the need for much greater mulch quantities eventually made me try it. I cannot recommend it highly enough. They really protect your soil a lot better than a lot of other, more porous mulches (which I think need to be replaced too often around here, and don't cool the soil well enough in our heat), and they haven't seemed to harm my soil any - in fact, quite the opposite. You can always put on more nitrogen. I can see why you wouldn't want them in a compost pile, because of the slow breakdown, but it's not like they don't break down at all! I've begun to think that they are actually what a lot of the soil needs here b/c that is what is being taken out a good part of the time.
The only drawback for me has been that my husband thinks they're ugly. I don't, but he's a city guy...
I still use a variety of different mulches for different purposes (and experimentation), but I like oak leaves the best. Just watch for black walnut leaves in there.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 2:53PM
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Oak leaves are great! You're lucky to have a good supply. Good for mulch, good for compost.

You mentioned black walnut leaves. I have 5 large mature walnut trees in my back yard and I don't compost the leaves. I do mulch them back in the lawn though.

You have to be selective of what you plant under and around walnut trees. Once your past that they are very nice trees and the walnuts keep the squirrels busy so they leave other things alone.

Alfalfa makes great mulch for the veggie garden also.

Take care.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2006 at 6:45PM
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robiniaquest(z6 MO)

Oh yeah. Alfalfa sounds like a great idea for mulch. It's prettier than straw, too, if you want a darker background.
I just tried alfalfa pellets to feed my roses for the first time this year. Got carried away and put them under my tomato and pepper plants too. Right after I did that I worried it might be too much N, but they did great - better than ever. Too bad cut alfalfa is kind of expensive. The pellets are supercheap, but you couldn't use that for a mulch.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 6:38PM
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Robin, as far as alfalfa goes you can get baled alfalfa from a local farmer pretty cheap.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2006 at 2:51PM
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I couldn't find alfalfa. I used to have goats and that's their hay of choice. Everyone here has bermuda hay. Yuk. I hate bermuda. I've pulled a lifetime of bermuda out of my flower beds. I was going to get some straw and chop it for mulch in my veggies. I have one of those cheap camping machetes. Might be therapuetic if I don't chop off my leg.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 8:10PM
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Oak leaves are great. For years we piled them into a large wire enclosure one fall and pulled out the leaf mold the next to mulch. It's about half broken down and won't blow in the wind. Oak sawdust is great too. There is an abandoned saw mill near us with a mountain of half rotted sawdust that we have permission to mine. If you can find fresh sawdust might be best to age it or spread over newspaper as with fresh tree or bark shreds. We use fescue and bluegrass clippings when there are no seed heads on it, but never use burmuda as the stuff will root from clippings without seeds.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 1:07AM
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Do think that if you go to the town they would either charge you a nomial fee or give it to you for free. You could also negotiate with them by maybe planting some area of the city for them. Otherwise becareful. Using a tree service for mulch could be dangerous. They sometimes cut diseased trees and that could transfer to your garden. Good luck. KIM

    Bookmark   October 10, 2006 at 2:16PM
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I have used the city wood chip pyle several times this fall. The only drawback was that the chips and chunks were not consistant and did not look very pleasing around my beds. So I made a box out of some old used 2x4 lumber and strtched some discarded 2 inch square fencing across the bottom and made a type of sifter. By laying across a couple of saw horses I was able to screen out the really nasty stuff. I also found that by digging into the pyle a bit I came across what was mostly already composted material. I will admit though that my Hydrangia picked up a fungus after I mulched around it and I almost lost it. A good couple of weeks with some funguside and some tender care and it came through great. Just a couple of ideas. Good luck with your garden

    Bookmark   December 12, 2006 at 8:41PM
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qqqq(z7 AR)

I use grass clippings. In the past I've cruised the neighborhood picking up big bags of it.

The only time I try to stay away from using other people's grass clippings is at the beginning of the year when the pre-emergents are applied.

This last year all my neighbors donated theirs to me. Boy was that easy!

I've used the clippings from my yard for years. The greener the clipping the quicker it will compost.

Then in the spring I will till it in and apply new clippings over the year.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 6:08PM
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I seemed to be blessed with more mulch than I can haul off in this county and the next to the north. I called a local veterinarian to see if I could haull off the cleanning out of his stable, and because he was on the local fair board, he offered me all the straw from the fair barns, after they clean them out. They haven't even cleaned them out from last year and the pile from the year before equals about ten truck loads. Also have a small sawmill just a few miles down the road from the garden, where I can haull off all the sawdust I want. I use it for walkways during the year, sprinkling a layer of cottonseed meal and wood ashes ontop it, and by the end of the season, I have beautifull black, humusy soil to put over the garden. North of me is a horse-boarding stables with a huge pile of "cleannings, horasemanure and straw or rice hulls. I usually compost it for several weeks, then use it for a "fertilizing mulch" during the summer. Strong

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 8:31AM
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