A bag of mulch doesn’t go very far, and these days it can be super expensive. If you’re on a budget, buying bags of commercial mulch to cover your garden or flower beds may not be an option.
Fortunately, there are lots of different types of free mulch all around you! You just need to know where to look…
#1. Grass Clippings
When it comes to free mulch, dried grass clippings are an awesome choice. They’re nitrogen rich, so they add nutrients to the soil, and they help keep weeds at bay. Plus, they’re free after you mow your lawn!
- There are a few things you need to keep in mind if you’re going to use grass clippings as free mulch, though. First, make sure the clippings are dry, since wet grass clippings can actually burn plants and attract pests like slugs. Also, add thin layers of grass clipping mulch at first. Thick layers can compact and prevent water from reaching the soil.
#2. Pine Needles
Do your pine trees drive you nuts when they drop their needles? Don’t let them go to waste, and use them for free mulch! Pine needle mulch is great for covering garden walkways as well as mulching around plants. They rusty color of the pine needles is also a little prettier than some of the other free mulch.
- Pine needles are a little more acidic than other mulches when they break down. While they probably won’t make much difference in most soil, if you have acidic soil, you may need to add a little lime.
#3. Wood Chips
Wood chip mulch doesn’t have to be expensive at all. In fact, you may even be able to get it for free from some of your local utility companies and tree removal companies. The branches and trees that these companies remove are put through a wood chipper and disposed of. Some companies will actually drop off a load of free mulch right at your house to avoid the disposal fee.
- Keep in mind that the chipped waste could possibly also contain unwanted items as well. This includes pesticides, plastic debris, weed seeds, an poison ivy.
If you still have a blanket of leaves in your yard from the fall, now’s the time to rake them up. Shredded leaves make great free mulch. They also break down quickly, add nutrients to the soil, and attract earthworms.
- Make sure your leaves are shredded before using them as mulch, otherwise they may take too long to break down. Running your leaves over with a lawn mower is a super fast way to shred leave. However, you can also fill a plastic garbage can half full with leaves and shred them inside the can with a weed whacker. Portable electric leaf shredders are also available.
If you have a lot of newspaper around, you can also use it as free mulch. Lay several layers of newspaper on the ground along walkways and around plants to suppress weeds and prevent evaporation.
- Thick layers of newspaper make great weed barriers, but they can also prevent water from reaching the soil. If you use newspaper as mulch, be sure to punch several holes through the layers of newspaper to allow water to pass through.
What is your favorite free mulch?