In this time of drought and extreme temperature swings it is even more important to mulch plants, trees, flowers, vegetables, etc. Mulching in beneficial in several ways. First and foremost it helps keep moisture in. The protective layer it provides slows down evaporation which means your plants are less stressed, you are conserving water and having to do less work by watering less often . Mulch also helps keep plants alive by protecting roots from freezing temperatures and extreme heat. Keeping plants alive means spending less money at the local box store buying new plants. Last, but not least, over time mulch breaks down and enriches soil which attracts earthworms.
Free mulch can be obtained a number of ways. The wood chips shown in the photo above were not only free but delivered to our home for free. Landscape companies are often looking for places to dump their wood chips.. My hubby knows someone who works for a landscape company and well, the rest is history. I have more mulch than I can use. The added bonus is it was dumped in an area that is hard clay and even weeds don’t want to grow there. The bottom layer has already decayed enough that grass is starting to grow up through the mulch.
Additional sources of free mulch include grass clippings, leaves, manure, and straw. Many people bag their grass clippings and fall leaves. Ask your friends to let you know when they are through mowing and raking. You can pick them up already bagged. All you have to do is open the bags and spread it around your plants.
Manure and straw can be used to fertilize and mulch your plants. Anyone that has livestock and a barn will have pile of manure and straw in their barnyard. In order to keep from burning your plants with the manure mix the manure and straw 1:1 with dirt in order to let it break down before using it. Add water and stir every few days. The good bacteria and enzymes in the dirt will cause the manure to break down faster. There are many philosophies on when this mixture is ready to use. When it smells like dirt instead of manure I use it. So far I haven’t burned any of my plants.
If you have any other ideas for free sources of mulch please post in the comments.
Happy mulching and have a frugal day!