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How To Dispose Of Old Mulch – Healthy Garden Guide

What comes to mind when you think of mulch? Chances are, you’re thinking of something like “beautiful flowers” or “a picturesque garden.”

Perhaps, though, you’re also thinking about that awful garbage bag in your garage…the one full of terrible-looking mulch. One of many questions that people ask is: How to dispose of old mulch?

First off, let’s talk about what mulch does for your landscape. Mulch serves a few important purposes in the life of your garden: It prevents weeds from sprouting, keeps the soil temperature and moisture consistent, and provides the garden with important nutrients.

These nutrients go hand-in-hand with those weed prevention benefits: as the mulch breaks down, it enriches the soil below.

It’s spring, and it’s time to refresh your soil’s food web after a long winter when wood mulch keeps the ecosystem clean. But what are you supposed to do with the old mulch now? How can you get rid of it? Well, here are some healthy garden guide tips on how to dispose of old mulch.

How To Dispose Of Old Mulch

Equipment You Need

  • Gardening Gloves
  • Shovel
  • Edger Tool
  • Rake
  • Tarp
  • Leaf Blower

To ensure that old mulch is disposed of correctly, you must remove it properly. There are seven steps in the removal procedure.

Step 1

Remove the mulch with your hand. Because it is probable for the mulch to contain several illnesses, fungus, pathogens, and germs, wear gloves while doing so.

Remove only a small amount of old mulch at a time by striping a little each week. It’s ideal to remove the plants during overcast days to avoid getting damaged by harsh sunlight.

Step 2

Remove any mulch from the area where it is stuck, such as around the garden’s edges, using an edging tool. The blade of an edging tool can be used to loosen up mulch in this manner around the perimeter of the garden.

Step 3

After you’ve loosened up and removed all of the mulch from the ground:

  1. Use a rake to break down the mulch clumps.
  2. Break down the clusters into individual pieces.
  3. Keep an eye on your plants as you rake around them; you might damage them if you rake too aggressively.
  4. Always leave a few inches of distance between your rake and a plant’s stem.

Step 4

The process continues with scooping out the mounds of mulch you made in step 3. This part may be done with a shovel. Shovel the heaps into a tarp or inside a container.

Step 5

Brush any mulch remaining at the plant’s base with your gloved hands. Place it on the tarp or inside the container, whichever you’re using.

Step 6

If you still see small bits of mulch that are difficult to remove, use a leaf blower to blow them away. Be careful not to use the blower for an extended amount of time. This is because it can become too hot, lead to soil desiccation, and blow it away.

Step 7

Finally, dispose of any old mulch you have stockpiled on the tarp or within a container. It’s fine to throw it away in the garbage or a yard waste bin if it’s untreated and 100% veggie. We’ll discuss this stage further ahead.

Mulch Disposal in a Yard Waste Bin

Any organic and vegetative materials generated during yard or garden maintenance are referred to as yard waste. The yard trash container accepts only the most natural and untreated mulches.

So long as your mulch is made up of natural, biodegradable vegetative matter (straw, wood chips, hay, bark, etc. ), it counts as yard waste.

Waste Bin How To Dispose Of Old Mulch
via Pxfuel

Separate Plastic and Dyed Mulches from Natural and Biodegradable Vegetative Matter

It’s also a good idea to remember that plastic and dyed mulches, such as tarps and garden fabrics, aren’t considered yard waste. Please don’t throw them away in the yard trash containers.


Remember to keep your yard waste separate from your regular trash because putting yard waste in the trash causes:

  • Organic matter breaking down in anaerobic environments emits greenhouse gases, or the stuff does not break down at all. The decomposition of organic matter necessitates the presence of oxygen. The substance cannot breathe because it is buried behind a mountain of garbage.
  • In landfills, it takes up a lot of valuable room. Yard garbage accounts for about 10% of all home waste. Consider what would happen if everyone began to mix it in with their garbage.
  • Wastes vital nutrients that could be used to nourish your plants and yard naturally.

Dyed Mulch Disposal

Dyed Mulch Composition

The majority of dyed mulches are made from repurposed wood. Dyed mulch might be hazardous to your plants depending on what was used to color it or where it came from.

Although it appears to be an environmentally benign alternative, mulch manufactured from reclaimed wood can contain some CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate). Plants, humans, and animals are all at risk from this toxin.

Even if dyed mulch does not include CCA, the repurposed wood used to make it was almost certainly treated to prevent biodegradation. As a result, dyed mulch is also unsuitable for composting.

If you want to dispose of dyed mulch, do not put it in the yard waste bin. Take it directly to a proper disposal site or recycling center. It might be possible for some turf managers and tree service companies (those that operate mulching mowers and chippers) to take dyed mulches off your hands.

Wood Mulch Disposal

If you have 100 percent wood mulch, there is a better way to dispose of it than throwing it away in the trash.

Composting is a natural way to dispose of untreated wood mulch. Many gardening gurus, on the other hand, advise against adding wood chips to compost.

It is said to bind oxygen, which aids in the breakdown of materials. True; however, there are two approaches you may take to alleviate this:

  • Add More Nitrogen Sources

More high-nitrogen sources can be added to your compost pile. The majority of specialists recommend a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of 30:1. However, you can raise the nitrogen ratio to get a balanced situation because you’ll be adding wood mulch, which binds nitrogen.

  • Leave the Wood Mulch for Decomposition

If you have wood mulch around your shrubs and plants with deep roots, you can leave it alone to decompose. There will be a nitrogen shortage in the soil’s upper layer. On the other hand, the plant’s roots will be able to reach nitrogen that is present deeper in the soil.


Mulching may be a difficult art, but with a little study, it is simple to grasp. It’s easy to underestimate the impact that older mulch has on your plants.

Remember to keep plastic and dyed mulches separate from other types of mulch (i.e., biodegradable/natural) when disposing of them or recycling them.

The greatest approach to dispose of old, untreated wood mulch is to turn it into compost. To make up for the deficit, add more nitrogen. Mulch that has been dyed should be avoided, but if you already own it, you’ll need to get rid of it by taking it to your local waste management facility.