Suggestions for finding free or really inexpensive mulch?

Merin Porter
Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin
edited November 2018 in Composting & Soil Fertility
My local arborist...I get them by the truckload for FREE!


  • NanC
    NanC Posts: 53 ✭✭
    edited November 2018
    me too!
  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin
    edited November 2018
    I get last season’s hay from a local farmer to use as mulch. They give it away free, and let you take as much as you want!
  • Cheryl Hines
    Cheryl Hines Posts: 1
    edited November 2018
    Our local PUD hires a local company to chip the limbs and these are delivered free. Call your local power company and ask what they do with their limbs/mulch. We've had two huge piles of green mulch which we let overwinter. a good mix of evergreen and hardwoods.

    Also, have gotten year old stable mulch from local horse boarding facility. Pre innoculated!
  • Marc Thoma
    Marc Thoma Posts: 77 ✭✭
    edited November 2018
    Right now the only free mulch I have are my leaves! Always amazed that people get rid of their leaves instead of just piling them up in their backyard and then having free mulch in summer.

    I'm still on a waiting list for a load of free wood chips. But will check with my local utility to see if they can provide it sooner. Somehow it is not as easy here (Victoria, BC, Canada) as it seems to be in the US. Maybe there is more of a "let's profit" attitude among arborists - one company I called said I can go to their sister company to buy wood chips from them!
  • Wendell
    Wendell Posts: 1 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2018
    One source I have used in the past was bags of leaves homeowners left on the curb.  No longer.  The city has gone to 95-gallon totes and bags are no longer picked up.  Homeowners must drop them off at a collection point and that location composts them and SELLS them back to the homeowners.
  • elchan7
    elchan7 Posts: 2 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2018
    Local tree cutting business.  Let the chipped wood sit somewhere-we left ours for a couple years and then used it on the beds last summer.  The plants loved it!
  • Donna Smeal
    Donna Smeal Posts: 1
    edited November 2018
    We've used and been happy to get free wood chips. We give the driver, who was the owner of the company delivering the load, a twenty so he's always happy to drop a truck load for us and even divide up where we want it dropped in the yard. You can be picky about what you want when you complete the form. Then when you work with the arborist or tree service company when they deliver, you can contact them personally after that and develop a relationship.Thanks for all the GrowNetwork does!! Love ya, Donna
  • Amy Berry
    Amy Berry Posts: 1
    edited November 2018
    I tried chip drop without any takers to get chips to us for several months. The luck of a neighbor who works for the city cutting down trees in the summer paid off in a monster truckload of chips! Paul Gautschi also gets credit (back to Eden gardening) with using the resource of leaves, and we have a bumper crop!
  • lezakovacs
    lezakovacs Posts: 1
    edited November 2018
    We are on our town's yard waste program where people drop off untreated grass clippings, leaves, pine needles (great for blueberries, raspberries, azaleas, etc, or just mixed in with leaves and other goodies), branches logs, clean fill, or rocks. You list what you'll take, and people will call asking for directions to your home after asking permission to bring their yard waste to you. I love meeting new people this way, and often help them unload their bags or trailers full of black gold in the making.

    We can also sign up with the town when they chip up fallen trees after storms. For smaller loads, I've chased down private tree services when I hear or see chain saws buzzing, and they usually are more than happy to drop off a load for free and near by.
  • bmaverick
    bmaverick Posts: 175 ✭✭✭
    edited November 2018
    Love the leaf shredder method, saves so much time and effort.  :)  I've had good dealings with the electric versions over the gas machines.  1.  Don't have to buy gas and maintain the engine.  2. the noise is soooooo much better with the electric types.

    I'm stuck doing the leaf shredding with the push mower running over the top of them.  It's the poor man's way of a leaf shredder. LOL

    Leaves hold soooo much photosynthesis nutrients.  Each tree type is different, so wide is the types of nutrients with a random leaf pile in a large yard vs. a single type of tree.
  • StacyLou
    StacyLou Posts: 89 ✭✭
    edited November 2018
    These are all great idea! Thanks to everyone that contributed. I will have to do some research in our area.
  • Marc Thoma
    Marc Thoma Posts: 77 ✭✭
    edited November 2018
    Thanks everyone - great ideas! I have a small electric shredder as well and use it for my tree prunings as I have lots of fruit trees. The wood chips I then use on my beds.

    Right now with the wet winters we have, I don't really want to add wood chips to my garden. I'll wait until early spring when things start to dry up and the annual weeds start popping up.
  • apachebob9
    apachebob9 Posts: 2
    edited November 2018
    starbuck's used coffee grounds - - damp, heavy, garbag bags, worms love it...
  • peppypoblano
    peppypoblano Posts: 92
    edited November 2018
    our neighbors don't want any of their leaves or limbs so we take it
  • John Wroten
    John Wroten Posts: 1
    edited November 2018
    The saw mill in Sebree Ky. All you want for free if you load it.  If you want them to load it, one scoop with a monster scoop for $25. My trailer is 15 feet long and 5 feet wide with 4 foot side boards. They just about fill it. The best $25 I ever spent.
  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Agreed. - We have 4 (with 4 more in the making) mountains... of woodchips doing their thing, with appropriate kitchen composting goodies dug into these mountains. There's no smell, & critters stay out. - And in a year or so, the BLACK GOLD is so nutrient-rich that combined with our love, any plants blessed with all such just LOVE it. - And so does our body when we are well-fed. - Good going everybody! 🤗

  • Karyn Pennington
    Karyn Pennington Posts: 71 ✭✭✭

    I see this is older, but I'll add my 2 cents.

    I've used with good results (eventually -- first time took a long time, now it seems they're in the area).

    I collect the neighbors leaves in the fall, ESPECIALLY, if they're shredded/mulched with grass.

    I collect the neighbor's pine needles, for which he is thrilled!

    I collect a 5 gallon bucket of coffee grounds about 1/three weeks from the cafeteria in the office building where I work.

    I have a shredder at home which shreds brown packing paper, toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, etc. and white, non-glossy newsprint.

    I food-process the majority of kitchen scraps for the worm bin, but there's always extra, so I freeze it until I'm going to dig a pit and/or dig a pit when my freezer gets too full.

    I also empty the vacuum on the compost pile (we only have 1 room of carpet and I'm not concerned, it's mostly dog hair).

    I have a 30 gal. garbage can that leaks set inside of another 30 gal garbage can. I throw my weedy/seedy waste in there and it makes compost tea when it rains. Then I throw the decomposed stuff on the compost heap and use the tea and start over. I have so much tea right now, I think I may be able to cover the entire front lawn. (I dilute 1/3 to 2/3)

    And I've recently been saving the bio-char from the fire pit, just need to figure out how to use it.

  • ines871
    ines871 Posts: 1,283 ✭✭✭✭✭

    What a good Example you are, Karyn ! - chipDrop is great.

    for wormbin = they just start messin'-around in over several piles of woodChips, & Horse-pooh, & some 3by3by3 ft. boxes

    We don't have a shredder, so all the Neighbor pine needles, leaves, & grass get dumpedon the piles to do their thing.

    Yeah, Compost-TEA is what ultimately brings home all the Fair-ribbons, LOL - we have usually 8 (30 gal. garbage cans) sitting at the house perimeters, & plants just jump for JOY comes feeding time.

    We don't drink coffee. After collected 30 gallons of (out-side Business') coffee-grounds, I had to call a temporary halt.

  • MarillynRatliff
    MarillynRatliff Posts: 7 ✭✭✭

    Of course there is compost, but don't discount sheet composting. It is a lot more work to haul trimmings away than to just let them lay and break down. The trick is to cut them up small enough so they aren't too ugly.

    Also try local stables, one stable near me actually separates the bedding from the manure so you can take your pick. Not to be used directly on food crops but will build the soil.

    Wood chips from a local tree trimmer is a good source of a lot of mulch. I usually get some garbage and limbs along with it but beggars can't be choosers.

  • Dennis Bries
    Dennis Bries Posts: 12 ✭✭✭

    As a local Master Gardener, This question came up! I was able to collect wood chips/bark chips and compost from each of a half dozen community re-cycle yards, including my own. Took a small pail or flower pot of each trailer-load from each location and planted a couple of seeds of corn, oats, beans and a broadleaf garden vegetable like cucumber, squash or lettuce in each pot. Depending upon the source -- most had variable or even no germination of one or more of the seed varieties. Even what appeared to be clean wood chips had overall poor germination.

    Recommendation: Know where and what is in the chips or compost BEFORE you put in your garden or flower beds! Oil, chemical residues from brush and stump killers, lawn chemicals, etc. are also commonly mixed or dumped i with the brush, lawn or hedge trimmings. Your tender young plants from the test pots can give you a good idea if the trailer load is OK or NOT!

  • pamelamackenzie
    pamelamackenzie Posts: 143 ✭✭✭

    In my local garden club, members let each other know of sources for wood mulch and other items like pine needles and rabbit poo. Sometimes a member gets carried away asking for free mulch from a tree trimmer and needs us to come get some out of huge pile in their yard. Also one member's spouse is a craftsman and has sawdust from untreated wood that he routinely offers to us.

  • Ray
    Ray Posts: 11 ✭✭✭

    This year, being on a really tight budget and unable to get a load of wood chips, and not having leaves from last year, I gathered pine needles from the wooded area of our land. It provides shade for the roots, keeps in some moisture, is organic, and free.

  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    Where I live, you can just call a local arborist, tree service company, or the like and ask them to drop off a load at your home...there is no charge for this service. I assume that it's free because otherwise they would have to pay to have it landfilled but depending on when they finally have your address on their schedule will determine how large your load of wood chips will be.

  • dimck421
    dimck421 Posts: 203 ✭✭✭

    I scamper through the woods and collect. I save all my leaves too. After signing up for mulch drops, I waited 3 years, with no drops, so I am guessing they are not in this area.

  • dianne.misspooz
    dianne.misspooz Posts: 105 ✭✭✭


    I discovered a neat place to get free mulch... my work parking lot! I was in desperate need of greens for my lasagna garden layer and my prayers were answered on my way to work from the parking lot. As I'm wont to do, I walk with my head down to make sure I don't trip when I noticed the pile of leaves that no one picks up near the curb and in the gutter. I kicked a section around to see how deep it was and I was pleasantly surprised to see a good bit of mulch underneath! And free! I'm heading back to work on the weekend with a shovel and a couple bags and I'm going to get that black gold. I've started to notice now all the places where leaves gather that no one tends.

    Keep your eyes peeled and what you desire WILL BE REVEALED TO YOU! I'm a firm believer in this :)

    Miss Pooz

  • cre8tiv369
    cre8tiv369 Posts: 67 ✭✭✭

    If you are getting used bedding or anything that has been around animals, be extremely cautious. If an animal was recently wormed, then the manure or mulch they contaminated will kill your earth worms and take a long time to break down. Horses are wormed all the time in my neck of the woods. I only allow organic on my property and take care not to bring in anything that has been contaminated.

  • probinson50
    probinson50 Posts: 49 ✭✭✭

    Our local government leaves piles of shredded limbs cut from around power lines for the community to pick up for free. Since it is not clear where the mulch came from, I do not use it close to my house (possible pest infestation) or around tender plants. I use it in the paths between raised beds and anywhere I do not want weeds or grass in the landscape.

  • probinson50
    probinson50 Posts: 49 ✭✭✭

    Our local government leaves piles of shredded limbs cut from around power lines for the community to pick up for free. Since it is not clear where the mulch came from, I do not use it close to my house (possible pest infestation) or around tender plants. I use it in the paths between raised beds and anywhere I do not want weeds or grass in the landscape.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Posts: 1,026 admin

    I've been signed up for ChipDrop for three years, also, without luck. We're in a small town, so I'm just guessing the arborists and landscapers in this area haven't really heard of them....

  • dimck421
    dimck421 Posts: 203 ✭✭✭

    @Merin Porter I think my problem with ChipDrop is I live in a VERY heavily logged area. My guess is any chips, mulch, logs, etc. was sold for whatever top dollar it could garner. Nobody replaces those trees or assures the soil does not erode. Sad stuff!