8 ways you can get free mulch
1. Tree care service
2. Your city
3. Backyard leaves
4. Grass clippings
After mowing your lawn, save the grass clippings to mulch your gardens. Avoid using fresh grass clippings, as they may create a moist, matted barrier that prevents water from reaching the soil.
After the grass clippings have dried, they make an excellent weed-resistant mulch. Grass clippings make a nitrogen-rich mulch that works best in vegetable gardens.
Pro tip: Don’t mulch with grass clippings that you have treated with herbicides.
Yes, you can use your compost as mulch. Compost is rich in nutrients, and, of course, it’s free. Don’t have a compost bin? Free mulch may be the incentive you need to make your own compost pile.
6. Pine needles
You can finally put those pine needles to good use. Pine needles decompose slowly and add a pleasant fragrance to your landscaping.
Pine needles make an effective mulch on hillsides – they stay in place due to their interlocking needles. This free, easily accessible mulch enables air, nutrients, and water to penetrate the soil.
Recycling your newspapers (if you’re still a subscriber) as a mulch limits waste in the landfill and saves you from spending on store-bought mulch. Newspapers have organic inks that are safe to use in your garden.
For an effective mulch, layer two to four sheets of newspaper and top them with an attractive organic mulch, such as grass clippings or leaves.
If you live on or near a farm, straw makes a useful mulch for vegetable gardens, annual and perennial gardens, and newly sown lawns.
Be sure to use straw rather than hay. Straw may contain weed or crop seeds, but hay often carries much more.
Pro tip: Keep in mind that straw is highly flammable and you’ll need to replace it regularly.
Other Types of Mulch
If money is no object, you can purchase organic or inorganic mulch. Our mulch guide can help with the types of mulch, cost, and the best places to use specific mulches.
When you’re ready to spread your wood chips or straw, the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home & Garden Information Center provides handy tools on how to apply mulch and how to identify problems with your ground coverings.
And if you’d rather leave your landscaping and mulching to a professional, your local landscaping service can weed and mulch the garden in no time.
Bottom line (and in this case, it really affects your bottom line): Free mulch has clear benefits. Free mulch helps your plants and your budget.