I NEED a cheap alternative for mulch! any ideas?

I have a large area in front and around my house that needs mulched. Last year I spent a small fortune on mulch, only to see it disappear. I've seen river rock, and pea gravel, however I think these ideas are no cheaper! Help!

  7 answers
  • Lisa S. Lisa S. on Feb 20, 2018
    Caution: Wood mulch degrades into the soil. This helps to feed the plants and bushes in the area. It also helps to keep the area moist , so watering does not have to be done as frequently. Wood mulch can sometimes be had for free or low cost at community composting areas.

    Using river rock and pea gravel does not feed the plants or really keep the moisture in. (which maybe is not your concern). It can also raise the temperature of the soil, as stones absorb heat. This can cause you to need to water more frequently (if you have plantings there). The heat can actually kill plants (especially tender plants) over time, as it raises the temperature of the soil. River rock and pea gravel are great for areas away from plantings. Also pea gravel great for walkways and such.

    Planting ground covers eliminates the need for mulch, as the soil is pretty much covered.

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 20, 2018
    Do you have garden edging to contain the mulch?

  • Amanda Amanda on Feb 20, 2018
    Hi Dawn. Have you checked with your local recycling center? Some give mulch out for free. They mulch up the brush and trees that people bring in. Otherwise watch for sales or even Craigs list. Sometimes you can find people that are getting rid of landscaping rocks. Good Luck!

  • Daisyq Daisyq on Feb 20, 2018
    shredded rubber tires

  • Holly Kinchlea-Brown Holly Kinchlea-Brown on Feb 20, 2018
    You could rent a chipper and make your own mulch from downed branches and twigs to reduce the cost...are you buying bags or do you get a load delivered? I find that buying a couple of cubic yards from a landscaping company is much cheaper than buying the bags

  • Laurel Galvan Laurel Galvan on Feb 20, 2018
    Check with arborist and tree cutting services in your area. In my area, if they are doing a job need by and they need a place to dump the mulched trees, they are happy to get rid of a truck load, usually for free and very low cost. You may have to call them frequently to remind them you are willing to take a load off their hands. And it may not be on your schedule.

  • Amy Ogden-Paparone Amy Ogden-Paparone on Feb 20, 2018
    Hi Dawn, have you thought about using Rubber Mulch? It's sold at Walmart and other stores for about $4 a bag, or you can order it by the truck load. It lasts much longer than your regular mulch and comes in Red, Black and Brown.

    Rubber Mulch
    Rubber mulch is made up of 100% recycled rubber, usually reclaimed from tires. It offers a few advantages over organic mulches. It insulates soil from heat and cold, allowing soil temperatures a couple of degrees higher or lower than wood mulch provides. Because rubber is non-porous, water makes its way directly to the soil underneath without absorbing into the mulch. It also reduces fungus and unwanted plant growth, acting as a very good weed barrier.
    It does have the same drawback as rock mulch; however, because it doesn’t decompose and return nutrients back into the soil. One other drawback is that some types of recycled rubber can leach small amounts of chemicals and minerals into the soil, which, in high concentrations, may harm some types of plants.
    Ultimately, rubber mulch can be an effective and sustainable alternative to wood mulch because it cuts down on the use of trees and other organic material, recycles material that would end up in a landfill and lasts significantly longer than wood mulch, making it a viable alternative.