What Is the Best, Free Mulch for My Gardens for Weed Control?

| 9/9/2008 12:00:00 AM

Resized grass clipping mulchI would like to find an effective and inexpensive (or free) mulch for my gardens for weed control. I tried some "free" compost from the town and it's now loaded with baby plants of some sort (probably weeds). I tried my own leaf mulch and had to pick out scores of maple seedlings. I've heard about spent hops but I guess it's pretty stinky. Any other ideas?

Your very best bet for free mulch is grass clippings from a yard that has not been treated with herbicides. Not only will the clippings smother the weeds, they will enrich the soil, providing nutrients for the annuals, perennials and bushes they are protecting. Check out Build Better Soil with Free Organic Fertilizer! on more ways to build better soil while discouraging weeds.

If you have a sawmill close to your home, you may be able to get sawdust to use as a mulch. While not as nutrient rich as grass clippings, it will smother weeds. Cotton seed hulls are another good mulch, especially if you live in cotton country. The trick is to find a local product to use as mulch so you are not ramping up your carbon footprint while depressing the weeds.

— Heidi Hunt, assistant editor

6/18/2015 2:51:51 PM

We put in a small pond a few years ago. After we finished we had probably about 100 square feet of pond liner left over. We tried using it to cover up weed and sterilize the soil. Well it was to large and cumbersome to move around. This year I had a thought. Cut it up. We now we have a bunch of small various size " rugs" that we lay on the weeds. After a week under that hot black rubber nothing lives.

Sarah Zentz
10/18/2010 12:14:00 AM

Without question, wood chips are you best answer. You can find free sources by calling your local tree service companies and have them deliver wood chips when they are working in your geographical area. I am currently directing a documentary film titled "Back to Eden." The website goes into further details of using wood chips as your year round mulching method. www.backtoedenfilm.com

Brenda Seay
10/10/2010 9:36:04 PM

I'm trying to find out is it's alright to use shredded paper for mulch in the veggie garden. Including colored ink and shinny magazine paper. Someone out there help me. Brenda PS My husband and I subscribe to Mother Earth News, but I've missed any articles on the subject.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters