Learn How to Sheet Mulch for Free

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Subject: Sheet Mulch

Your last direction...is it correct? 10-12 inches of mulch or wood chips?
The whole plan sounds practical, but the amount of mulch/wood chips is daunting.
Thanks, Sharon

Gea Bassett

Subject: amount of mulch

Hi Sharon
It may feel like a lot, but 12 inches of mulch will break-down in 6-12 months to around an inch of mulch. You can use less mulch, but it will decompose fast. I recommend contacting local arborists to ask to be on the wait-list to get free mulch dropped off at your house or go to your local feedstore and obtain hay.


Subject: Free?

I like the idea of sheet mulching. Yup, you can get all the free cardboard boxes from the store. They are thrilled you want them.

However, wood chips aren't free anywhere I have lived (Houston, TX, now upstate NY). Neither is manure. Farmers charge for you to haul it off. Its a commodity and they sell it.

Can you name sources where wood chips are free?


Gea Bassett

Subject: where to get free mulch

Try calling your local arborists - ie tree companies. Ask them if they can drop off a load of chips at your house when they have them. Tree companies need places to dump off chips - otherwise, they have to pay to have them dumped. It is a win-win situation but just keep in mind you may not be on the only person on their wait-list so it can take weeks or months for the delivery to actually happen. Call around and leave several requests with different companies.

Maureen Fitzgerald

Subject: sheet mulching

I have an established garden but did this the first year I moved into my home and was amazed in the Spring. My question is, will my perennials , such as tulips and crocus, still bloom or will I have to start over?

Gea Bassett

Subject: sheet mulching over perennials - not suggested

Hi Maureen
I do not suggest sheet mulching over anything that you want to keep growing. The idea here with sheet mulching is to smother out grass and weeds (rather than pluck them) and to build biomass for the soil to become healthy again. I do not suggest sheet mulching over anything that you want to have come back up.

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.