An Alameda Garden: Let There Be Mulch

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Let There Be Mulch

I tried, I really tried to be patient and thorough and carefully dig and pull out the weeds that were consuming my garden. But my gardening time has been in short supply in the last few weeks and I had a looming deadline--I'd invited my family over for lunch for Mother's Day. It seemed like everytime I got a substantial patch of ground weeded, I turned my back for a day or two and when I checked back, the weeds had all returned in even greater numbers. It was time to get serious.

So last Thursday I called a green waste recycling company in S.F. and asked them to haul over 4 cubic yards of mulch and 1 cubic yard of compost. It arrived on Friday and was neatly dumped in two piles in my driveway. I spent Saturday hauling the mulch bucket by bucket (because I don't have a wheelbarrow) from the driveway into the yard, where I spread it out over several layers of wet newspaper, smothering the weeds underneath. I mulched the largest bed and have hardly made a dent in the mulch pile. By the time I get everything else mulched, I'll probably still have enough to fill my compost bin and some more left over (to save or give away). The compost that was delivered will be used to build two raised beds on top of the mulch for vegetables.

The cost for all the mulch and compost was $80. (Actually, the mulch and compost were free--the $80 was for the delivery.) I know I saved money over buying the mulch bag by bag from Home Depot, although it would have been nicer still if I could have found a tree trimming company that would have been willing to deliver their wood chips free (none of them wanted to come to Alameda). I seem to be spending money on the garden as though I actually have it to spend! But I think I need to rein it in now for a little while until my cash flow improves. I should add a new slogan to my business card: "Will Work for Plants."


  1. Wow. $80 is a really good price. Where did you get the mulch from? I desperately need to mulch the garden in the next month, or all the sand is going to blow away.

    I usually buy mine from Acapulco Rock and Soil in Richmond, but they charge a lot more.alh

  2. I got it from Bay View Greenwaste Management Co. (415-822-7686, or If you go to their place and load it up yourself, it's free. Otherwise, they will arrange for someone to haul it to you and you pay the hauler. I found them on the "Free" section of, but you should also look at the tree trimming companies that post there. You may be able to find one that will deliver to you for free.

  3. Might be too late or not appropriate for your situation, but have you considered 'solarizing' areas that need heavy weeding? I love solarizing. It's cheap and easy!

    Just use a medium to heavy grade plastic in 4' widths. Anything wider is too cumbersome to deal with. Secure the edges with something to keep the air out and the heat in.
    I am solarizing the whole perimeter of my new garden area.
    Have been meaning to write a blog about it. Still editing, but should be posted by tomorrow. (Thurs.)

  4. Thanks, Claire. I can even borrow a truck and go pick it up. That's really cool!

  5. My weeds run amok too especially as it has rained and given them vigour.I hope it works keeping them at bay.


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