Syracuse giving away free mulch

Don’t buy mulch. The city of Syracuse is giving it away for free.

That’s the message Deputy Department of Public Works Commissioner Jeff Wright wants to convey.

This year, the city’s DPW estimates it will process more than 80,000 cubic yards of mulch consisting of leaves, grass clippings, broken tree branches and any other excess yard waste, Wright said. Instead of throwing the mulch out, the city has opted to give it away.

“We’ve been giving it away for 10 years,” Wright said. “Mostly we have a few businesses and some residents that take it.”

The mulch is available, free of charge, for pickup at the city’s DPW site on City Crossroads Drive. Local businesses such as golf courses and landscapers take a majority of the mulch, but the city has set aside a separate pile for residents, who take more than 400 cubic yards a week, Wright said.

The mulch comes from yard waste, collected once a month from residential areas.
The city has had relative success giving the mulch away despite virtually no advertising, Wright said.

“People find out mostly from other people,” Wright said. “We had an article in the newspaper a few weeks ago. That’s helped out a lot.”

The Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency also gives away mulch from its storage areas in Camillus and Jamesville.

OCRRA has several hundred yards of mulch for the residents of Onondaga County, said OCRRA spokesman Andrew Radin.

“We ask that residents pay a $10 seasonal fee,” Radin said. “They can drop off their yard waste and take mulch and compost.”

The mulch that isn’t given away is inventoried for the winter and the process starts again the following spring, Radin said.

Mulch benefits gardens in a variety of different ways, said Adam Dunn, garden manager of Home Depot in Dewitt. A two cubic-foot bag of mulch at the Home Depot sells for $2.50.

For this time of year, applying mulch to gardens will help insulate any seed planted in the ground, protecting it from extremely low temperatures, Dunn said.

“It really helps with flower beds,” Dunn said. “It helps keep the moisture in and helps flowers to keep coming back yearly.”

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