In the late 70’s under then-Mayor Joe Davis, the Huntsville Public Works department began the service of vacuuming loose leaves from the curbs of residents. Huntsville was the only major Alabama city that allowed residents to rake or blow their fallen leaves to the curb. From early November until late January, city crews roamed the streets in leaf-sucking vacuum trucks. These leaves were then brought to a lot adjacent to what is now the Huntsville Botanical Garden. From there, anyone could come and load as much of the leaf mulch as they wanted. Before long, the city provided a front loader to help load that mulch for free on the first and third Saturdays of each month, from May- September. Area Master Gardener’s began to take donations for the mulch on these Saturday’s, with the proceeds going to the Huntsville Botanical Garden. Along with leaf mulch, the city also accepted undecorated Christmas Trees after the holidays to mulch as well. For many years, the community enjoyed the free mulch that this lot provided. In December 2010, Mayor Tommy Battle recommended that the pickup of loose leaves be cut from the budget, which would save the city $250,000 to $500,000 annually. The Huntsville City Council agreed with Mayor Tommy Battle’s recommendation to end the loose leaf pickup to help balance the city’s budget for fiscal 2011 because of declining sales tax revenue. Although the leaf pick up stopped, the pile was still abundant and the community continued to reap the benefits for almost 6 years following the end of the pickup service. But alas, we’ve used the pile up. There is no longer mulch available at this site, nor will you be able to recycle your Christmas trees here. We will have ideas for recycling your trees, so check back with the Garden after the holiday season.
We are so proud to have had this resource so close to the Garden, enjoyed the teaching opportunities it provided us and let’s face it, we used it too. We will continue to teach about compost and mulch here at the Garden and urge each of you to start composting your own mulch for your gardening needs. It’s important to give back the nutrients to the earth. Mulch reduces water use by up to 75% as it protects the soil from evaporation. It provides valuable nutrients as the mulch breaks down, encourages worms which aerate the soil and provide fertilizer in the form of worm castings and reduces the amount of weeds by inhibiting the germination of weed seeds. Stay tuned…there is so much more to come!
The last official last day for mulch pick up is Saturday, July 22 2017.