Author Topic: Free/Cheap Mulch Source  (Read 4900 times)

BikingEngineer

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Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« on: October 27, 2020, 12:27:06 PM »
I'm not sure if this has been posted elsewhere, but if anyone needs a lot of mulch or woodchips I can highly recommend getchipdrop.com. I signed up a week or two ago, and just received a load of woodchips for $20 (which was an optional charge to offset the Arborist fee. They dropped 15 cubic yards of chipped up trees right where I asked them to, and it's being put to good use in the backyard. This past spring I probably spent $200 on bagged mulch and ended up with considerably less than this (roughly 100 bags at 2 cubic feet per bag).
« Last Edit: October 27, 2020, 12:28:56 PM by BikingEngineer »

Mgmny

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2020, 12:33:59 PM »
I just build some raised garden beds into a hill at my house. I think Hugelkultur would tell me to fill them with wood chips to a degree, but i'm not 100% versed in this stuff. How much mulch would you recommend filling the beds with before compost, etc.?

Roots&Wings

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2020, 06:38:08 AM »
Nice! Local tree companies are another good source for wood chip mulch. We recently got 30 cubic yards delivered for free. They dumped it on a steep hillside, and it makes good "fill" to level things out.

@Mgmny we just added dirt to the planting holes on top of the built-up mulch, it'll break down over time. Unsure if there are rules of thumb for this, but experiments work too! One guy nearby made a hugelkultur "mountain" from free wood chip mulch and planted things on top.

Sibley

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2020, 07:41:03 AM »
My town you can pick up mulch for free from Public Works. They chip it from trees that they take down/come down in storms.

BikingEngineer

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2020, 07:48:00 AM »
Nice! Local tree companies are another good source for wood chip mulch. We recently got 30 cubic yards delivered for free. They dumped it on a steep hillside, and it makes good "fill" to level things out.

@Mgmny we just added dirt to the planting holes on top of the built-up mulch, it'll break down over time. Unsure if there are rules of thumb for this, but experiments work too! One guy nearby made a hugelkultur "mountain" from free wood chip mulch and planted things on top.
This is basically the same thing, it just makes it easier to get in touch with local Arborists to get those chips delivered. That's how I'm using a lot of these chips, to level out some low spots, and fill the gaps under the fence that the dogs keep slipping under. I also have a bunch of bare root fruit trees coming from the Arbor Day Foundation (good source for cheap trees) that will get mulched in as well.

My town you can pick up mulch for free from Public Works. They chip it from trees that they take down/come down in storms.
That's technically available near me (and actually we're not too far away from each other), but I needed a ton of chips (actually 5 tons) and that's more than I can fit in my truck (partially pictured in the background). Since the drop on Monday I've spent all available light after work moving this pile into the yard, after 4-5 hours of shovelling/hauling I'm a little under halfway done. I'm definitely getting my workouts in this week.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2020, 11:19:03 AM »
Since the drop on Monday I've spent all available light after work moving this pile into the yard, after 4-5 hours of shovelling/hauling I'm a little under halfway done. I'm definitely getting my workouts in this week.

You're doing great! This is load #5 for me, and I've gotten my time down to about 0.6 hrs/cubic yard. The tilt wheelbarrow forward and scoop mulch in (canoe paddle stroke) method has been most efficient for me. It's amazing exercise :) Good luck!

BikingEngineer

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2020, 09:00:49 AM »
Since the drop on Monday I've spent all available light after work moving this pile into the yard, after 4-5 hours of shovelling/hauling I'm a little under halfway done. I'm definitely getting my workouts in this week.

You're doing great! This is load #5 for me, and I've gotten my time down to about 0.6 hrs/cubic yard. The tilt wheelbarrow forward and scoop mulch in (canoe paddle stroke) method has been most efficient for me. It's amazing exercise :) Good luck!
Thanks! I'm thinking that an upgraded wheelbarrow might be in the cards this spring, I've been using an old plastic tubbed model that I got for $10 off of craigslist and this usage is letting me know that it's clearly on its last legs. I've been using a straight-handled transfer shovel and scraping/scooping from the edges of the pile with great success so far. It still looks like a huge pile, but it's only chest/gut high now while it was neck high when I started.

It's definitely great exercise! I've noticed my midsection having quite a bit less softness over the last few days, and I've been eating the same. I might get another pile just to keep the workouts coming (or I could just start lifting again, either way).

Roots&Wings

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2020, 11:16:06 AM »
^ Maybe a holiday wish list item! Who wouldn't love getting a wheelbarrow after all :)

The last 1/3 of the pile is the hardest, it's like why is this thing not getting noticeably smaller. I usually do a couple hrs/day in morning or evening, and takes about a week to move the whole pile. Definitely have to be in the right mood to tackle it again, but it's great exercise as long as you don't overdo it.

Exercise + free mulch + diverting waste + building soil, win all around.

BikingEngineer

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2020, 09:16:40 AM »
I knocked the last of it out on Friday night. I'm estimating roughly 10-11 hours to clear the whole pile. The snow shovel was actually the fastest way to clear the pile, but only worked later in the pile once it had loosened a bit. I'm thinking I can justify one of these pile every other year or so, the price is certainly right.

As for the wheelbarrow, I tightened up the bolts and it got noticeably more stable. The handles could use some reconditioning, but otherwise it'll hold up for the moment.

This whole thing has gotten me thinking about free sources for garden stuff. I recently discovered that a not too far away Horse Stable gives away compost, wondering how that all works. I can hose out the bed of the truck if need be...

RetiredAt63

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2020, 01:57:14 PM »
I knocked the last of it out on Friday night. I'm estimating roughly 10-11 hours to clear the whole pile. The snow shovel was actually the fastest way to clear the pile, but only worked later in the pile once it had loosened a bit. I'm thinking I can justify one of these pile every other year or so, the price is certainly right.

As for the wheelbarrow, I tightened up the bolts and it got noticeably more stable. The handles could use some reconditioning, but otherwise it'll hold up for the moment.

This whole thing has gotten me thinking about free sources for garden stuff. I recently discovered that a not too far away Horse Stable gives away compost, wondering how that all works. I can hose out the bed of the truck if need be...

Composted manure shoveled into feed bags works for gardeners near me.

Dreamer40

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2021, 04:55:44 PM »
Nice! I've been thinking about doing this, but am nervous about getting a load with annoying stuff in it like thorns or really ugly chips that will make my property look crappy. But I love the price and the delivery!

Trifele

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2021, 05:07:13 AM »
We've used free mulch from arborists -- it's great.  One thing to be careful of is what kind of wood they are giving you.  If you want to use the chips near many garden plants you'll want to steer clear of walnut or hickory chips because of juglone toxicity:   https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/HO/HO-193.pdf .  A local arborist can usually tell you what kind of wood is in the load they are giving you.

@BikingEngineer -- I've also gotten free horse manure from a local farm and it worked great.  The farmer used his backhoe to put it straight into the bed of our truck, and when I got home I shoveled it out into the wheelbarrow.  Definitely ask how old the pile is.  It's safest to aim for 1+ year so that it has broken down and isn't so "hot", and it also gives time for the wood chips/pellets mixed with the manure to break down.  @horsepoor is the expert on that.   

Aegishjalmur

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2021, 08:10:48 AM »
Just signed up for this. I could easily use 4-5 full truck loads of mulch for raised beds and pathways.

Mgmny

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2021, 09:37:26 AM »
Just signed up for this. I could easily use 4-5 full truck loads of mulch for raised beds and pathways.

THAT IS SO MANY CHIPS

Roots&Wings

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2021, 09:45:49 AM »
Getting ready for 3rd load of the year! :) Creating more beds/getting rid of more grass, and topping off the existing beds. Lucked out with some camphor/eucalyptus, which helps repel bugs/termites and good for around the house.

Aegishjalmur

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2021, 02:19:47 PM »
Just signed up for this. I could easily use 4-5 full truck loads of mulch for raised beds and pathways.

THAT IS SO MANY CHIPS
o

LOL.... 2.5 acres. Well most is wooded, I will be doing multiple raised beds, but I also plan on doing forest pathways(lined using larger downed wood) to areas I can establish additional raised planting beds and starting a food forest.

Roots&Wings

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2021, 05:55:32 AM »
That sounds awesome @Aegishjalmur ! Hope you have an easy way to move that quantity of mulch...wish I had one of those mini excavators at times.

Mgmny

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2021, 08:16:02 AM »
That sounds awesome @Aegishjalmur ! Hope you have an easy way to move that quantity of mulch...wish I had one of those mini excavators at times.

Haha no kidding!! Aegish's plan sounds super awesome, but other people were saying that each truck load is about 10 hours of work, so that's 50-60 hours of mulch laying... wow

Roots&Wings

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #18 on: April 02, 2021, 10:28:36 AM »
^ Well in fairness, there are plenty of other options for moving mulch than doing it all yourself, e.g. ask neighbors/family, host a "permaculture blitz" work party, etc. Renting a mini dozer or paying a yard helper might not be too costly either.

Aegishjalmur

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2021, 02:49:16 PM »
The property is brand new(to me) so the beds and trails are all brand new/being built as I go so this would look more like: Load Dropped>10-12 hrs spread over probably over 3-4 days spent moving it to existing beds, start lining trails>Build more beds and trail>Order Next Load>Lather, rinse, repeat. One load a month or every other month is manageable.

Weisass

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2021, 09:39:20 AM »
I also plan on doing forest pathways(lined using larger downed wood) to areas I can establish additional raised planting beds and starting a food forest.

Good luck with the food forest. We are four years into our food forest and itís just starting to....wait for it....bear fruit (lol).

Aegishjalmur

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2021, 01:09:15 PM »
I also plan on doing forest pathways(lined using larger downed wood) to areas I can establish additional raised planting beds and starting a food forest.

Good luck with the food forest. We are four years into our food forest and itís just starting to....wait for it....bear fruit (lol).

LOL. I understand. The thing we regretted having to leave the most when we sold our last house three years ago was the Bartlett Pear tree in the front yard. It had finally reached the point where we could fight the squirrels for some. We're in this for the long haul, I don't plan to move for a couple decades so I can take my time(one of the perks of being retired in my thirties).

Weisass

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #22 on: April 07, 2021, 08:36:35 PM »
Oof I hear you about squirrels! They take take take.

Mgmny

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Re: Free/Cheap Mulch Source
« Reply #23 on: April 08, 2021, 07:28:35 AM »
MULCH PROBLEM!!!

So i bought the cheap $1.50 bags of mulch from my local big box store, because a full chip drop was going to be too much by about 3x. I just built some raised garden beds/terracing on a hillside, and wanted to mulch the tops of these gardens (only about 75 sqft in all). I wanted the cheap stuff because i want the wood to decompose and add organjic matter to the soil over the next years, and i don't mind adding a bag or two on top every year.

HOWEVER, as i was reading the bag, it says, "Made with 100% recycled wood" and then in small print near the bottom it says, "This is a recycled product. Despite best efforts, the nature of the processing of this product dictates that it may contain foreign materials including, but not limited to, processed wood and non-wood materials. For this reason, this product is not recommended for use around playgrounds, vegetable gardens, or for other sensitive uses and should be visually checked by the installer for impurities." This scared me, because my plan was using it for vegetable garden.

So i did some more research on the web, and "Recycled wood" is old construction and demolition materials, old pallets, etc. There's no way to know what those pallets were exposed to, or had spilled on them. Old construction and demolition materials could be any number of chemically wood.

I googled the recycled mulch on NCBI, and came across a pubmed study that boiled down to: If 1 in 1000th of the wood used was treated lumber (imagine 1000 2x4s, and 1 of them was treated lumber), the arsenic from that 1 board in the bagged mulch would leach into the soil and create toxic levels of arsenic in the soil. NOT COOL. I'm returning the bags, and i guess i'll get a cyprus blend or pine bark nugget mulch ($$), because there is literally no other type of softwood mulch commercially available it appears. It looks like even the colorful mulches use recycled wood.

I've never even considered that the mulch sold at stores could be laced with chemicals like arsenic or OSB glue - i never thought i needed to worry about MULCH.

All-in-all, getting "junky" wood mulch from chip drop, or a local municipality that does tree trimming is by far the best option. So wild.

Maybe i'm late to the party on this one, but i literally had no idea that this was even potentially an issue.