Free Mulch. Why You Want It & Where to Get It

Why mulch? 

If you've never experienced the magic of mulch, here's what to expect: fewer weeds, less evaporation (less watering!), and your soil will become more nutrient as the mulch breaks down. Mulch also helps insulate plants against hot and cold weather spells. Consider using mulch in flower beds, pathways, and around trees.

Mulching tips 

Trees:  Keep mulch about 6" away from trunks of trees and bushes to avoid rot, and lay down about a 4" layer.

Flower Beds:  Freshly made mulch can compete with flowers for nutrients, use cured mulch around flowers and vegetables.

Pathways:  Pull weeds and place a few layers of newspaper or cardboard under about 5" of mulch to kill grass. Water deeply to kick-start the decomposition process. The cardboard or newspaper will biodegrade over time releasing nitrogen into the soil.  

Where to score free mulch, year-round

The Bureau of Forestry of the Department of Streets & Sanitation offer free mulch year-round, at four locations. 

Mulch is available on a first-come, first-served basis from 6:30am to 2:00pm Monday-Friday. Take your own containers and shovels.

  • 9909 Foster (O'Hare Site)

  • 5333 N. Western Ave (rear of the property)

  • 2342 South Ashland Avenue (North West corner of property)

  • 900 East 103rd Street (North East corner of property) 

Use this  handy mulch calculator to determine how much mulch you'll need.

updated 09.26.2020

City of Chicago
TreePeople  [pdf]
Chicago Community Gardens 



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