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Bring a shovel; Mulch Mayhem offers free mulch

Five locations open Saturday with wood chips for local gardens

This young man with a kid-size shovel gets into the spirit of Mulch Mayhem during an earlier event.

This young man with a kid-size shovel gets into the spirit of Mulch Mayhem during an earlier event. Courtesy Regional Water Authority

Mulch works magic in Sacramento gardens, especially during the hot and dry months to come. Like a nourishing blanket around plants, mulch keeps roots comfortably cool while retaining moisture and feeding soil microbes. It even cuts down on weeds.

And here’s your chance to get a lot of mulch for free.

It’s Mulch Mayhem, presented by the Regional Water Authority and local water providers in Sacramento and Placer counties. On Saturday morning, May 4, residents can pick up 1 cubic yard – that’s 27 cubic feet – of wood-chip mulch for their personal use. The hardest part: Getting it home.

Participants need to bring their own shovels, bags or tarps to haul the mulch away. One participating location in Roseville will fill up the back of open pick-up trucks or trailers (no shovels necessary).

According to the RWA, mulch does a lot for Sacramento-area gardens.

“Mulch slows evaporation, moderates soil temperature, and enhances the beauty of your landscape,” says the RWA. “As it naturally breaks down, mulch enriches the soil with essential nutrients for healthier plants. Mulch acts as a natural barrier to help control pesky weeds. Water managers estimate you can save 30 gallons of water for every 1,000 square feet by applying two to three inches of organic mulch around plants and four to six inches around trees.”

The mulch is a real mix of our urban forest. It came from the wood of downed trees or pruning leftovers from park and street trees.

Mulch Mayhem is open to customers of the hosting water agencies and providers including the cities of Sacramento, Roseville and Lincoln. Also hosting: Carmichael Water District, Placer County Water Agency, San Juan Water District and Sacramento Suburban Water District.

Limit is 1 cubic yard per household and for personal use only. (Contact your water provider for more details.) In addition, the City of Sacramento is offering free compost at its marina Mulch Mayhem pick-up point.

No advance registration is necessary. The free mulch will be available from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday (while supply lasts) at five locations:

Carmichael: Carmichael Water District, 7837 Fair Oaks Blvd.

Information: (916) 483-2452 or

Rocklin: Sierra College, Overflow Parking Lot, corner of Rocklin Road and El Don Drive, opposite the campus.

Information: (530) 823-4850 or

Roseville: Parking Lot – Foothills Boulevard; entrance located at 9100 Foothills Blvd. Open truck and trailer fill only—no shovels required.

Info: (916) 774-5761 or

Sacramento: Sacramento Suburban Water District Facility, 917 Enterprise Drive.

Info: (916) 972-7171 or

Sacramento: Sacramento Marina, 2710 Ramp Way (enter from Front Street). Compost also available here.

Info: (916) 808-5605 or



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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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