Adding mulch to a garden every spring is a great way to help suppress weeds, boost soil's ability to hold in moisture, and build a "soil sponge" to prevent runoff. Mulch (leaves, chipped branches and bark) is broken down by soil critters, then eaten by soil microorganisms - and those organisms help feed plants. Some of the bits of mulch that aren't broken down help create pockets of air and water that help retain water when it rains. Mulch also helps us "close the loop" with recycling yard waste and turning it into a valuable landscape material. It's easy to get, whether from a tree trimmer, a business that sells it, or a city mulch give-away programs.
The Ventura County, CA Surfrider Foundation Chapter's Ocean Friendly Gardens Committee is partnering with the City of Ventura and Agromin Premium Soil Products to offer residents of the City of Ventura FREE mulch. Mulch will be provided to City residents for pick up only (some cities such as Long Beach, CA and Simi Valley, CA offer free delivery of mulch). Residents are told to bring their own shovels, bags, containers, etc. While there is a limit of 100 gallons, residents can get free mulch anytime (dawn to dusk) at a local community garden. The City is a great OFG partner, and directs people to OFG-oriented resources on their website.
Fall is another good time of year for mulching - and weeding - and it can tied in with a social event. The Newport, Oregon Surfrider Chapter organized a "Pint-and-Pull" work party at the Ocean Friendly Garden they helped install at City Hall (pictured at left, and click here for details). Participants were given a ticket to get a pint at a local brewery after weeding and mulching.
One website, called Chip Drop, connects mulch providers with those who need it: https://www.chipdrop.in/howitworks/.