A Simple Way to Save on Yard Projects

posted by Andrea | 04/28/2014

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When Dave and I purchased our first home almost exactly 8 years ago, we knew that we would have to learn how to do yard work… and learn fast!

The lawn of our first house was hideous… tons of massively overgrown shrubs, dying trees, not a flower in sight, and more weeds than grass. It was a nightmare and neither of us knew what we were doing.

We are fortunate to have many greenhouses, landscape-supply stores, and tree nurseries close by — and I visited them all frequently, asking lots of questions each time.

One of the local tree nurseries also sold wood chips and mulch by the yard, so when it came time to get our first load of mulch, I decided we’d just have it delivered from this company. Little did I realize how much money I was saving by going this route. 

It was only later, after seeing a neighbor bring home bags, and bags, and BAGS of mulch from the hardware store that I realized how smart we were to order our mulch by the yard.

Not only did we save a ton of time and prevent hundreds of plastic mulch bags from ending up in a landfill, we also saved a boatload of cash in the process.

If you don’t believe me, check out the figures below!

Prices of Mulch by the YARD:

Mulch by the yard (in our area) is usually around $20 – $24 per cubic yard.

Delivery is usually about $20.

Dave and I usually get between 10 and 25 yards of mulch at a time.

This means we spend roughly $200 – $600 on mulch depending on how much we need and what type we purchase (we usually get the $20 stuff).

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Prices of Mulch by the BAG:

One bag of mulch usually costs between $3 and $5 (at least in our area).

One bag of mulch usually only covers 2 cubic feet.

There are 27 cubic feet in 1 yard of mulch.

This means you would need at least 13 bags of mulch to equal 1 yard of mulch.

The cost of 13 bags of mulch would be between $39 and $65.

Based on these cost figures, we would end up spending anywhere from $400 to $1600 in mulch depending on how much we needed and what type we purchased!

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We would literally be spending at least TWICE as much on mulch if we purchased it by the bag — plus we’d have to make 87 trips to the store and deal with all the trash from our hundreds of bags of mulch!

And think of doing this ever year or every couple of years. The savings could REALLY add up.

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We’ve been using this money-saving tactic for a long long time so I wasn’t sure it was “blog worthy” — but I’m still amazed at how many people I see piling bags of over-priced wood chips and mulch into the back of their vehicles.

Honestly, the only time you might not benefit financially from ordering mulch in bulk is if you need less than a yard and you don’t have a way to haul it yourself (and would then need to pay the delivery fee).

I realize that mulch by the yard might not be as easy to access in some parts of the country — but if you look at the figures I listed above, it certainly makes sense to try!

Do you have any other ideas to save on yard projects?

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16 comments

  1. Deni

    04/28/2014

    We have switched to pine straw for mulch. We are fortunate that we live on a street full of pine trees, so we get it for free. Also, I learned that pine straw is the only mulch that is termite resistant. It is easy to lift, helps with keeping weeds out and moisture in, and stays in place well.

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    Kristin Reply:

    We did that as well this year. We have 2 pine trees and about 10 years worth of needles on the ground. My husband read that pine needles are good for Azalea’s (of which I have 5) so he just raked up several wheel barrels full and voila!

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    Kim {Pinspired Home} Reply:

    We use pine straw too! And before that we used the mulch from our township. They mulch tree limbs and brush, and residents can come pick it up for free. :)

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  2. Sandy

    04/28/2014

    We’ve always had our mulch delivered as well and generally spread fresh every other year for maintenance. Our neighbors follow the same schedule, so we generally order it together to share in the delivery costs which saves just a bit more. A win-win for us both. :)

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  3. Steph

    04/28/2014

    When we first built our house and had to put in landscaping, we did all but the lawn ourselves. We bought all baby plants, when our neighbors bought already established ones (we are in a subdivision and they did their own landscaping too). Those first 2-3 years ours were noticeably smaller but then they caught up. When I think about the fact that we bought our $25 tree the same day they bought their $300 one, it still makes me happy with our decision to be patient. Because they are ornamental trees and get trimmed back so much anyway, you can’t tell. And that was one tree among the 40-50 bushes/perennials we both bought. Crazy savings….

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  4. Victoria

    04/28/2014

    We have gotten great deals on mulch on Facebook. We get it from people who ordered a trailer full and then did not need all of it. My husband has a truck so he just goes and loads up the extras. We have done it twice, once the people wanted nothing for it they simply just wanted it hauled away the next time we paid $20 for about $50 worth of mulch.

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  5. Amanda

    04/28/2014

    Mulch delivery is most certainly the way to go! Just make sure your cars are out of the driveway so they don’t get blocked in :)

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  6. Laurel

    04/28/2014

    Yep. Everyone we know has a truckload delivered, us included. I never see people hauling bags anymore. Had to think about that. I want to check out the pine stuff now, though.

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  7. Debbie

    04/28/2014

    This is our 2nd year in our house. My husband and I had to learn a lot too within this past couple of years in regards to plants. We also sat down and talked about what we invision our yard to look, the style, etc. We both decided we didn’t want to have mulch because every other year we would have to replace them, otherwise they wouldn’t look as nice. Instead we installed river rocks where the plants would be in the backyard. We used pea gravel where my husband built our shed and pea gravel where we built our fire pit. In the initial home building we asked our builder to use basalt rocks in the perimeter of the house instead of the usual mulch that they use. It was an upgrade but we feel it was worth it in the long run. We’re not done with our yard projects but we’ll definitely go this same route for the future. I like how the different color and types of rocks defines the different areas of space we have. We feel this may be more costly than mulch in the beginning but will save us money and time in the long run.

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    Debbie Reply:

    Oh, and I forgot to add that we also had the rocks delivered. We shoveled the pea gravel and river rocks ourselves once it came, which probably saved us more money too. We had the landscaper install the basalt themselves since it was during the house building phase.

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  8. Heather Ratliff

    04/28/2014

    Our city (Abilene, TX) has a recycling center that mulches old trees. They give away the regular mulch (if you load it) and charge a small amount for premium mulch. It’s a great money saver!

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  9. Janet

    04/28/2014

    When purchasing plants for your yard, try to split the plant so you get two plants for the price of one. Also buy smaller plants rather than well established ones. More plant for the money.

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  10. Kristen

    04/28/2014

    We were about to order a ton of mulch for delivery, but we decided to get rubber mulch from Costco. (It’s for some beds around our pool so not a lot of plants … not sure how well it would do in a flower bed.) It looks a bit like woodchips, but the color is nice and dark. And it has a 12 year color guarantee, so we’ll see how it holds up! It was definitely more expensive than regular mulch (and we had to truck tons of bags home) but if we only have to do it every 10 years, it will be well worth it to me ;)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    That sounds like an awesome idea for around a pool — we almost did the rubber mulch in Nora’s play area last year but then decided it might not look great right next to our other “wood” mulch.

    We like the wood mulch in our planting beds because it’s good for the plants — I like the idea of not having to replace the rubber mulch though :)

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  11. Nicola

    04/28/2014

    Our city lets us have wood chips for free. We just have to load it up ourselves. It’s not as pretty as the cedar much, but it’s good for certain areas of the yard, like around our vegetable planters in the front yard.

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  12. Renee

    05/03/2014

    We have a small trailer and also pick up mulch and garden dirt by the yard locally. For raised garden beds (especially vegetable beds) we have been able to pick up yards of free composted horse manure from local stables saving us hundreds of dollars in garden soil as we’ve set up our veggie gardens. The manure is an excellent natural fertilizer for the veggies too! One more way to save is to get starts and splits from family, friends, and neighbors. I’ve been given lots of beautiful perennials.

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