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  • Writer's pictureZach

Prepping the Plant Beds for Winter with FREE Mulch

Most homeowners usually choose between rock or mulch to fill in the plant beds around the house. If you've been reading the blog for any time, you know by now I love the look and other benefits of mulch which you can read why in one of my first blog posts here.

plant bed with cedar mulch
We converted this plant bed to mulch late this summer

We Finally Got all the Rock Removed

Since moving to our forever home I have been working to remove all the rock from the plant beds and around the house. This has been a ton of work, but I’m sure it could be much easier if you rented some power equipment to help remove it.

zach removing rock

Lucky for me I had several neighbors that were willing to take it. I also hired a couple of former students to help me haul out a bunch of rock this summer.

student removing rock

student removing rock

Free Mulch?!

Usually, I buy bags of cedar mulch and prefer the color and consistency that cedar mulch gives. After creating a bunch of new plant beds after the fence was installed, I was going to need a TON of mulch. However, with inflation, the price of mulch has gone way up alongside everything else - cedar mulch was nearly $5/bag this year. So for this first pass at building up the beds with the initial layer of mulch, I decided to take advantage of all the companies offering free mulch delivery right now. Best part is they deliver it right to your driveway for free.

huge pile of  mulch  on driveway

Right now, because of the abundance of dead trees that had to be cleared out this year, tree companies are literally giving away truckloads of mulch. Simply search on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for free mulch and tell them where you want it. Both companies I’ve used have been great to work with. You will get some leaves and sticks mixed within, but those will all compost into healthy nutrients for the plants. For free you won’t get high quality cedar mulch, but both of my truck loads were good wood chips.

closeup of wood chips

I actually dumped my fallen fall leaves mixed with grass from my riding mower at the bottom layer. This completely covered the grass to kill it and on top of that I placed a thick layer of mulch. Over time this will turn into a healthy compost to help feed all the plants and trees.

leaves and grass clippings

I’m on my second shipment of mulch. I’ve been able to cover every plant bed in my yard. The entire area looks much cleaner and tidier and best of all I feel like my plants are much better protected for the winter.

plant beds with mulch

In the summer, I’ll be able to use less water because the moisture will hold in much better with the mulch protection. Blocking the sun from the ground is a big benefit that keeps the soil cooler. Plus, the mulch provides weed control. For me the biggest advantage is that you can save a ton of time planting, splitting, or removing plants when they’re planted in mulch. Removing a plant covered in rock is a pain and adds zero benefits to your soil.

mulch around pine tree base

Tools Needed for Mulching

You only need two things to mulch: a shovel and a wheel barrel. It takes a lot of walking, but just think of it as exercise. When you get a wheelbarrow, I’d highly recommend getting one where the tires can’t go flat and don’t need air. I’ve wasted a ton of time trying to keep air in the tires of my old wheelbarrow. I bought the Husky Wheelbarrow and it has worked great. I love the black color as well compared to the traditional green.

mulch in wheelbarrow

The shovel I use is a square shovel. This makes it easy to scrape my driveway and pick up just the right amount of mulch. I used the same shovel for spreading compost and picking up lots of the rock.

zach scooping mulch off driveway

Plant Beds are Ready for Winter

plant bed with mulch


Need a lawn fix? Here's what we used:

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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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