I've heard that if you ask for it, Ameren will deliver a free load of mulch to your home.
My goal for this spring and summer is to tame my wild jungle of a garden (using more than newspapers this year). Mulch seems like a key ingredient.
I tweeted this morning about wanting to get to the bottom of the Ameren rumor, and was surprised at how many responses I got about mulch.
@leighannmmm made a good point – it makes more sense to buy mulch from someone who's recycling it, rather than to buy shipped-in bags of mulch made from trees cut expressly for that purpose.
Many people said they got their mulch from Urbana's Landscape Recycling Center, which will deliver for a minimum fee of $25, according to its Web site. You can see its prices for mulch here.
Another suggestion from Twitter: Country Arbors Nursery in Urbana. I called them at 367-1072 and talked to Nola Compton, who was knowledgeable and friendly. Country Arbors sells a hardwood mulch that costs at $42.50 a cubic yard. Naturally dyed mulches in red, black or brown costs $45 a yard and keep their color well, Compton told me. Cedar mulch is $58 a cubic yard and playground mulch, good for swing sets, is $40 a cubic yard. Delivery costs $40 for Champaign-Urbana, and it could cost more if you don't live in town.
A cubic yard covers 100 square feet 3 inches deep, which Compton said is the perfect depth for keeping down weeds and retaining moisture in your garden. A full-size pickup truck might carry two or three cubic yards, she said, depending on the truck.
And I got to the bottom of the Ameren mulch question – I called AmerenIP, my service provider, at 800-755-5000. I talked to a service representative, who told me that the mulch is from tree trimming and isn't necessarily clean. That means it could contain leaves or branches, she said, and isn't always available everywhere.
She offered to put in a request for me, so I went with it, partly because the pickup/delivery headache could be instantly solved. We'll see if I actually get some. At this point, I don't care whether there are leaves in the mulch - I just need a way to cover the wilds of my garden to prevent the tall, leafy plant with yellow flowers that took over last summer. It's not good to have ragweed in one's yard, right?
When I mulch, I'll make sure to layer newspapers underneath it for extra protection against weeds. That's a suggestion from master gardener Mary Dickinson of Loda, who said The News-Gazette works especially well for this purpose because it's printed with soy ink.
What about you – where do you get your mulch? Are you a bag-buyer or do you get it in bulk?
Photo is from gardenbytheday.wordpress.com