How To Find Free Wood Chips For Garden Mulch

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It’s easy to get free wood chips to use to mulch your gardens and keep down weeds. These tips for getting free mulch can save you a lot of time and money!

How To Find Free Wood Chips For Garden Mulch

How To Get Free Wood Chips For Mulch

Here are some great tips from us and our readers about how to get free wood chips for garden mulch. You’ll also find other great money and time saving gardening ideas!

Ask a tree trimming service if they will give you their wood chips for free mulch if they are in the area. I have done this for years and never had any problems with the wood chips we got from them to use for mulch. You might make sure to ask if they have cut down any black walnut trees because black walnut will kill your plants. I haven’t had any problems using my free wood chips in the garden. If you are worried about insects invading the garden, just spray a little insecticide on the mulch.

Some cities have a free mulch program where the city tree trimmers dump all the wood chips at a specific location where they are available for free. Call your local County Extension and find out if there is one in your area.

If I can find sawdust from someone’s workshop, I use it in my garden for mulch in place of or along with the wood chips.

You can also check with places like your electric company and other utilities to see if they have free wood chips. A lot of times, utility companies have tons of free wood chips because they’re constantly cutting trees to clear their lines. I have even stopped and asked people when I see companies cutting down trees what they’re going to do with their wood chips. Most people are so glad to have someone who can use it and who will take it.

If you just need a few bags of wood chips for mulch, look for torn open bags at the home improvement store. Our local store has a pile where they dump all the torn open bags of mulch and rocks. They sell the bags for $1 each, saving you up to 75% off! Most just have a few wood chips missing.

Make your paper shredder work for you! I get garbage bags full of shredded white paper from my job (normally thrown out), but I use it in my garden as MULCH!! And shredding your old documents, bills, etc. would do the same for you!

Put down 2 or 3 inches of shredded paper all around your plants, and it will definitely help keep moisture in and weeds out. As for the aesthetics, you can always put a thin layer of cypress or pine (or whatever) mulch over the paper to make it ‘look’ pretty, and hold the paper down till it gets damp. Once it is damp, it forms like a crust, and won’t blow away, but is easily picked up by hand if you want to plant more plants!

You can use newspaper the same way (sheets will work), but if you’re going to throw the shredded stuff away anyway… It’s FREE, and works GREAT!!! And you can even bury veggie scraps (no meats, oils or fats) under the paper to help feed your plants and get the worms working too. From: Jane

Note from Tawra: We use newspaper and shredded paper under our mulch all the time. Be aware, though, that if you live in a windy area like ours, the shredded paper will blow away even after it’s been wet down. We often put down the paper and then add the wood chips to keep it in place, but we’ve discovered windy days are not good days to do it! 😉

I like to use shreds from my paper shredder and the shreds from work in various ways in my garden. I put it into my compost barrel and it makes great compost! I also use it as mulch on my flower and veggie beds. I put several inches of shredded paper down and cover it with a thin layer of bark mulch. After it rains, the paper is squashed to about an inch thick and the layer of bark covers the stark white (and sometimes multi colored) paper mulch. To save even more money, I have sprayed the white shreds with tea to make it look more attractive and natural and didn’t put down the bark mulch. That was completely free mulch and didn’t look too bad after the tea was sprayed. From: Dawn

In the fall, we take a couple of hours a few days a week to drive around in the neighborhoods where people sack their leaves and leave them at the curb. We fill up the truck and bring them home. We put some in the chicken pen every so often when it gets muddy from lots of rain. We use some to mulch our plants so they weather the cold winter better. We use the rest the next spring/summer to place around the garden plants to keep the weeds out. At the end of the growing season, we turn them under with some of the fertilized leaves we scoop out of the chicken pen. By the next spring, we’ve got some beautiful dirt and after a couple of years, we now have some fabulous dirt that is loaded with worms. All from free leaves that someone else is happy to have us haul off. From: Kathy

I hate weeding. One year I read an article that suggested putting grass clippings in the rows to keep the weeds down. It worked. I was able to go weeks without having to weed before I had to put down more grass clippings. It really helped in terms of bending, pulling and time saved. From: Lori

Note from Tawra: This is an excellent idea. Be careful, though. If you put lawn clippings that have a chemical such as weed killer on it, you can kill some plants in your vegetable and flower gardens. I would use grass clippings with weed killer only around the bases of trees and other areas where it can’t hurt your plants. Otherwise this works great!

Keep a shower curtain or tarp in your car at all times. This way, if you find a good deal on mulch or plants, you can take advantage of the deal right away without messing up your car. Mike used to drive across the Washington-Idaho state line every day and the truckers would dump their wood chips on the side of the road, so he stopped and got a trunk load of free wood chips every day!


For more about using wood chips in the garden, check out out new videos below!



For more easy and practical ways to save money and get out of debt, check out Dig out Of Debt and learn more about how to keep more of your money.



  1. says

    Dear on a Dime, Thank you for the good information to do with getting mulch free. I have been tring to figure how to clean up my neglected back yard on a Dime! I have cronic nerve damage in my back and down my legs…I’m always in pain. I use spending and shoping on line to due to But in fact it causes more. I tried to start a at home internet sight to help earn money to get out of debt. I gained lots of credit card bills and no return. It was devistating. My husband doesn’t have anymore in him to deal with me and my try to get out of debt. I’m unable to go out and get a job. I live so close month to month just paying on a dream that never came true. We also got scammed from a company that took our $8,000. to help us get Web sights up and profitable. Well he made the profit and we were left in the dust. I’m at a loss and don’t know where to turn. I would like to get out of debt asap. I also need to consalidate the cards and get them paid off with better intrest rates. Thank you for your help. I just need to deal with the pain in diffrent ways. My family have all ganged up on me for believing in a company who thrive on leading on house wifes. They get your hopes up deaming about winning $5000. a week for life. Ya, I somehow got my brain to want it so badly to get out of debt that I would go further into debt for a chance at $5000. a week for LIFE! I know it is not true. I just have to believe in something. I was glad to find your sight on pinterest. No With belief and disipline I can make getting out of debt happen.

  2. Ruth says

    Be careful putting wood chips around your house, shed or anything else made from wood. Decomposing chips can attract termites.

  3. Patricia says

    I enjoyed your article and videos very much. Thank you for of your gardening tips. I have always bought mulch but will consider contacting the tree trimming companies next year. I am allergic to poison oak and poison ivy. Have you ever had a problem with the rashes and swelling using free mulch. I guess I could ask if these vines are in the mulch though I do not want a doctor bill, scares and the pain that would accompany wrong information.

    • says

      I have never had a problem with it but it would be possible. If you get them I would ask them if they are cutting around the poison oak and ivy. You could probably wear long sleeves and gloves and be ok, just don’t touch your face.

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