Yes, dumping!

Even though I live in suburban St. Louis in a fully residential neighborhood, the terrain required the builders 40 years ago to leave fairly substantial amounts of undeveloped "common ground. I have a narrow strip of this behind my house, but there are larger sections nearby -- the reason we have so much daily deer traffic. The residents who have common ground behind their homes often use the "woods" to dump their yard waste: mainly leaves and sticks. I promote this practice, as those materials quickly break down and certainly don't cause any problems.

Almost everybody is happy with this practice, but there are always exceptions, right? There is one unhappy neighbor who went so far as to put up a "No Dumping" sign in the woods behind his house, even though it was his next-door neighbor who was "dumping" there. Let me make it clear right now that I welcome this unloading of organic matter in my yard!


In fact I've already talked about my trips to the community mulch pile in order to get loads of free chippings for this back part of my yard. I also let neighbors from across the street (who do not back to common ground) dump their leaves back here. I don't think there's been a year yet when I've gotten all of the leaves or wood chips that I really wanted. I was actually planning another trip or three to the mulch pile again this weekend, but that's changed now.

You see, at this month's first Saturday meet-up at the Schlafly Gardenworks I got a hot tip when we were talking about mulching. One of the gardeners mentioned that our local power utility (Ameren) has a service where you can request free wood chips. Just sign up on their website and after some amount of time you'd get a free load of chips delivered to your home.

Not a lot of room for equipment maneuvers.
It's certainly not easy to find on the Ameren site, but yes, there is a contact link. (Search for "wood chips" using the site search tool if that link stops working at some point.) I sent an email, wondering how long it might take for a reply. A few hours later I got a voicemail from somebody at "Shade Tree", an Ameren contractor about wood chips. Fast reply!

I called back the next day, confirmed that I did indeed want a load of chips and that they could just dump it on the driveway behind the sidewalk. It sounded like they were going to come by later that day. Wow, that was fast!

They didn't come that day.

I called back a few days later just to make sure they hadn't forgotten about me. "I didn't forget you" I was reassured. "I'm just waiting until we get a 'clean' load of chips -- some of the stuff we've chipped lately was pretty junky". I didn't say "junky is fine as it's what I usually use" but instead just thanked him.

Pulling forward because there's more in there.
We'll try moving the arm the other way where there's no tree...
That did it!

If you hadn't noticed from the photos, the chips arrived yesterday!

Good timing too, as the weather today (Saturday) is going to be mild: 58ºF (14ºC). No wheeling loads of mulch in the snow this time!

Looks big from this side...

I will certainly be putting miles on the wheelbarrow today -- this is a large load of chips!

When I fill my truck at the community pile or buy a yard of mulch I get between 6 and 7 wheelbarrow loads out of it. I'll count when I move this stuff to see how many cubic yards it is, but it has to be at least three.

But even bigger from this one!

Looking at the pile again now, this has to be at least 25 wheelbarrow loads. I'm glad that this stuff needs to go downhill and not up.

In that earlier post I asked "what's better than free mulch?".

Free mulch that is delivered, that's what!

(Is a similar service available where you live? Check into it!)


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Salty Pumpkin Studio  – (January 19, 2013 at 8:38 AM)  

Fantastic! What a great post about the cooperation of industry with their community!
Thank you for the uplift of spirits

scottweberpdx  – (January 19, 2013 at 9:37 AM)  

OMG...that is a thing of beauty! Norm makes fun of me whenever we're driving around and I see someone has a freshly-delivered pile of mulch or compost.

Jennifer  – (January 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM)  

Wow! Can't beat that! And the mulch looks pretty good, too. Having ordered several deliveries of mulch before, I'd guesstimate there is about 10 cubic yards there. You've got your work cut out for you!

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (January 19, 2013 at 11:43 AM)  

Those chips look beautiful! I'd love to have a couple of yards of those to mulch my perennial beds. What are the odds that our local power company does the same...

HELENE  – (January 19, 2013 at 8:49 PM)  

That's a great service! Here in London we have the opposite service, the council come and collect my garden waste and chop it up and use it to make compost for their use. The collection service is free and great for me who has such a small garden that I have no place for composting myself.

I have wood chips in all my flower beds, it needs topping up every year, sadly I have to buy it in large bags and it is quite expensive for the whole garden. Free wood chips would have been great :-)

Jason  – (January 19, 2013 at 10:05 PM)  

I'm going to have to check and see if our utility (Com Ed) does the same thing.

Alan  – (January 20, 2013 at 9:03 AM)  

An update: there is much, much more mulch here than I thought. Jennifer's guess is pretty good I think, but I won't know until today is over.

Helene: we also have "yard waste" pickup, where the branches, leaves, etc. are picked up weekly for composting somewhere. Then twice a year our city send a truck around to chip up the larger branches and tree limbs that you can't put into the weekly pickup.

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