Whether new beginners or experienced gardeners, we all love using mulch to control persistent weeds! Problem is, unless you live on a farm, most mulch must be purchased and can significantly increase the cost of raising food. I had that problem, until I discover free mulch near me. And I realized the news was too good to keep to myself!
Mulch Commonly Used Today
Mulch comes in various forms: some folks use straw, hay, leaves and even shredded paper or cardboard! I’m a fan of straw. I’ve used hay and cardboard for particularly weedy patches. But my favorite? Grass clippings!
Why We Use Grass Clippings
While straw makes a wonderful mulch, our local stuff costs a pretty penny! We finally had to conclude that mulching with straw wasn’t a wise financial decision.
Apart from this, straw comes from cereal grain crops (wheat, rye, barley, etc) and unless organic, may be sprayed! As the straw decomposes, it will bring all that into the soil with it.
Hay is a cheaper option and less likely to contain toxic sprays. In order to keep mature seed heads from propagating grass throughout the garden, hay must be thickly applied, a minimum of 5-6 inches. This requires more hay and also, more money.
Instead of purchasing mulch for our garden, we learned to use grass clippings.
What is grass but immature hay? Why not use it before seed heads form?
Grass clippings are free (we all mow our lawns, right?), readily available and unless you spray or use chemical fertilizers on your lawn, are an organic mulch and even a compost for your soil!
The Important Thing with Grass
There’s one thing you need to know before you begin mulching with grass: it must be dry, like hay. Wet clippings get hot as they decompose and may burn tender young seedlings. Not only this, but freshly-cut grass, if thickly layered, makes a slimy mess in the garden as it breaks down!
In my world, bare feet and green slime don’t mix! So we dry the grass before applying to our soil.
How to Dry Your Lawn Clippings
Spread clippings out in full sunlight. Often, folks dumped their lawn clippings in a grove of trees, deep in the bushes or hide the pile away, out of sight.
Instead of doing this, move your clippings to a warm location with full sunlight.
Don’t leave it in a mound! Spread the pile out until it’s no more than 1 inch in thickness. If the weather is warm, it won’t take more than 2-3 days to dry out. To speed the process, turn the pile once in that time.
When dry to the touch, it can be raked into a pile. Freshly-dried grass will be sage green, while older grasses will be a golden brown. Go by texture, not color!
How to Store Dry Grass Clippings
If you aren’t ready to put your new mulch to use, it ought to be protected from moisture. Collect it into garbage bags or a tarp, then store it under a nearby shelter.
While moisture (rain or heavy dew) won’t hurt your dry mulch, it will start the decomposition process! If left exposed to the elements, white mold will form in the middle of the pile. If this happens, be sure to wear a mask when applying the mulch!
Get Your Mulching On!
That’s how I discovered free mulch near me! If it has worked for me, I’m willing to bet it’ll work for you too! And if you don’t have enough lawn to provide for your mulching needs, talk with a few neighbors. Most are happy to have their clippings hauled away!