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Get ready for Mulch Mayhem

Local water providers offer free way to save more this fall

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Sacramento Digs Gardening
Plants with mulch  along a walkway
Mulch helps your plants make the most of available moisture while also cutting down on weeds. (Photo courtesy GardenSoft and Regional Water Authority)

Circle Saturday, Sept. 25, on your garden calendar. It’s Mulch Mayhem, a great way to help your plants and save water, too.

Sponsored by the Regional Water Authority and local water providers, this free event provides mulch just in time for fall planting. But get there early; Mulch Mayhem starts at 8 a.m and lasts until noon (or when all the mulch is gone).

According to irrigation and gardening experts, mulch slows evaporation, moderates soil temperature, beautifies landscapes and even controls weeds. As it breaks down, mulch also adds nutrients to the soil to help your plants grow.

Water-efficiency managers estimate that Sacramento-area residents can save 30 gallons of water for every 1,000 square feet of landscape, just by adding 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch around plants and 4 to 6 inches around trees. Organic mulch includes leaves, wood chips, straw, etc. – not rocks.

When mulching around trees or shrubs, make sure to leave about 6 inches of space around the trunk to avoid crown rot.

Available to customers of the participating water agencies, free mulch is limited to one cubic yard per customer (enough to fill a pickup truck) and must be for personal use only.

Mulch will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until supplies are gone. Customers are encouraged to bring their own shovels, containers, tarps or other items to cover the mulch in transport and must provide their own way to haul it away.

Contact your water provider for more details. (Not sure who your provider is? See .)

Here are the Mulch Mayhem participating sites.

Sacramento County

Sacramento Suburban Water District, Enterprise Site
917 Enterprise Drive, Sacramento
Hosted by Sacramento Suburban Water District
Details: 916-972-7171 or

Carmichael Water District
7837 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael
Hosted by Carmichael Water District
Details: 916-483-2452 or

City of Sacramento South Area Corporation Yard
5730 24th St., Sacramento
Hosted by the City of Sacramento
Details: 916-808-5605 or

Placer County

Sierra College, Overflow Lot
Corner of Rocklin Road and El Don Drive (opposite the campus), Rocklin
Hosted by Placer County Water Agency and San Juan Water District
Details: 530-823-4850 or or
916-791-2663 or


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of June 4:

Because of the comfortable weather, it’s not too late to set out tomato and pepper seedlings as well as squash and melon plants. They’ll appreciate this not-too-hot weather. Just remember to water.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, melons, squash and sunflowers.

* Plant basil to go with your tomatoes.

* Transplant summer annuals such as petunias, marigolds and zinnias.

* It’s also a good time to transplant perennial flowers including astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia, salvia and verbena.

* Let the grass grow longer. Set the mower blades high to reduce stress on your lawn during summer heat. To cut down on evaporation, water your lawn deeply during the wee hours of the morning, between 2 and 8 a.m.

* Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies. That gives their heavy flowers some support.

* Dig and divide crowded bulbs after the tops have died down.

* Feed summer flowers with a slow-release fertilizer.

* Mulch, mulch, mulch! This “blanket” keeps moisture in the soil longer and helps your plants cope during hot weather.

* Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.

* Cut back fruit-bearing canes on berries.

* Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.

* Trim off dead flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through the summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding now. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as keeps roots moist.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.

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