What are the Best Sources of Free Mulch?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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Using mulch has a number of advantages, including erosion prevention, the addition of nutrients to the soil, and maintaining soil temperature and moisture. Mulch can be expensive, though, and many people look for free or inexpensive ways to get it. Although it may take some looking around, different types of mulch can be obtained for free from a person's own backyard, neighboring properties, and local municipalities. Some companies, such as landscaping businesses or quarries, may also be sources of free mulch.

Probably the easiest way to obtain free mulch or compost is from an individual's own backyard. There are a variety of organic materials that can be used for mulch. Pruned tree limbs and shrubbery, raked leaves, grass clippings, and pine needles all make suitable alternatives to the expensive mulch purchased in stores. Also, dead or downed trees and limbs can be chipped using a wood chipper.

As an alternative to using one's own yard, a person can also use his neighbor's yard, while providing a free service at the same time. Many people would jump at the chance to have someone else do their yard work. By offering a free service to prune bushes, rake leaves, cut the grass, or remove dead or unwanted trees, a person can obtain the material for organic mulch. Grass clippings and leaves can often be used as is, but tree and shrub waste typically must be chipped first.


Another way to get free mulch is through the local city, township, or county. Most of the time, the yard waste, such as tree branches and brush, picked up by work crews is chipped into mulch. Many areas offer this recycled yard waste to the residents at no charge in the spring and fall. Often, all residents have to do to obtain this mulch is haul it away.

In areas that do not offer a free mulch giveaway, residents may still be able to get free mulch. Often, landfills and disposal services will give yard waste to local nurseries. These nurseries will then shred or chip it and sell it, making a nice profit. Instead of paying the nurseries, individuals may be able to eliminate the middle man and contact a landfill to get the yard waste, which can then be chipped using a wood chipper.

Tree removal and landscaping companies may also be a great source for free mulch. These companies will often pay hefty fees to landfills and dumps to get rid of the trees. Instead of paying the fees, owners or managers of these companies will often gladly deliver or let people pick up the chipped up waste material to nearby residents, usually for free. There may be a small charge sometimes, but it is often a mere fraction of the cost that a nursery would charge.

Inorganic mulch is another option. The most common type, pebbles, is often used for both garden mulch and playground mulch. Obtaining free pebble mulch may be a little trickier, but it is possible.

One option for this is a large local quarry, which may give away some of its less desirable or extra small pebbles. Most of these companies deal with very large orders, and they may be willing to give away a small amount for free. If they are not wiling to part with any gravel, abandoned quarries will often have piles of leftover gravel, pebbles, and rocks.

If a person believes that he can accomplish the task, pebbles and stones of a variety of size and color can also be found along riverbanks. These can be collected, transported, and washed with a pressure washer or garden hose. Collecting a large amount from a natural source such as a river, however, is not recommended, as it could cause some environmental damage.


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