This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

March 14, 2015

Getting free mulch for your desert garden

If you have a garden, you know that mulch helps retain moisture, keeps your plants' roots cooler, and overall is a pretty darn good thing. This is especially true if your garden happens to be in the desert, like mine is. My garden uses a lot of mulch. Luckily, for me, I get it free. It rains down continuously from my trees.

If you're fortunate enough to have a tree that sheds year 'round, you're in luck. Oddly enough, I see a lot of people in the Phoenix area gather this precious material up in bags and put it in their garbage can, where it goes to add more waste to a landfill. Not only is this a frustrating waste of time, it's a waste of precious resources, including water.

So, stop vacuuming under your tree. Let the mulch accumulate. I use a lightweight rechargeable blower to clear off my sidewalks. Yeah, it's so lightweight I just took the photo by holding it with one hand. And it's rechargeable, so you don't need to drag out an extension cord. It took me about five minutes to do my front sidewalks. Or you can use a broom if you have more energy than me. Just point it towards your tree.

If you look closely at the photo, you can see that underneath the mulch is the gravel that was originally laid down when the house was originally landscaped. Presumably when the tree was tiny, the gravel looked nice. As the tree has grown a lot since I've owned it, it has created its own bed of mulch.

Gravel is an awful thing in the desert. Yes, it keeps the dust down, and it's better than dirt, but it reflects heat, and just makes it all that more difficult for your plants to grow. So, don't vacuum your mulch, save it and use it. Not only will you be saving money on your water bill, your tree will be healthier, and all the plants around it will benefit, too.
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