Want a cheap solution that minimizes time spent weeding and watering your garden? Add a layer of mulch. You can even get it free if you haul your own from one of the many municipal piles.

When tree trimmers from local public works departments mulch branches and leaves, residents can bring their own shovels and bags to the sites listed below. Concerns about insects or disease infecting yards are unwarranted, said Ralph Sievert, director of Forestry at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. "The pests, including bark beetles, don't like the shredded material," he said. Cities use the mulch on public property, but don't use the chips from ash trees. Minneapolis doesn't distribute the ash chips to the public sites, said Sievert.

Selection and hours of pickup vary by site, so call first. Sites might be open selected weekdays, evenings and weekends. Most of the sites offer compost only in early spring and supplies are already depleted for this year. Wood chips will be available at various times from spring to fall. Some sites require proof of residency.


Wood chips near the south parking lot of City Hall at 6301 Shingle Creek Pkwy.

More info: 763-569-3380, www.cityofbrooklyncenter.org


Wood mulch near the Central Park parking lot at 83rd and Noble Avenues N.

More info: 763-493-8006 or www.brooklynpark.org/sitepages/pid935.php


Compost at the yard waste site at 14796 101st Av. N.

More info: 763-420-4400 or www.mgyardwaste.com.


Wood chips at 11 sites.

More info: 612-370-4900, ext. 1, or www.minneapolisparks.org (On the left side of the site page, click on "urban forest" and then "wood chips" to find the sites). Supplies are expected to be replenished by mid-June or early July.


Wood chips and compost at the public works yard waste site at 14900 23rd Av. N.

More info: 763-509-5950 or tinyurl.com/27s2zuh.


Wood mulch and compost at seven sites.

More info: 651-633-3279 or www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ph/rt/collection_sites.htm. The sites are closed Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Compost and wood chips north of the Harriet Alexander Nature Center at 2520 N. Dale St.

More info: 651-792-7004 or www.cityofroseville.com/index.aspx?nid=810


Compost and wood chips near the intersection of Cedar Lake Road and Colorado Avenue (south side of Cedar Lake adjacent to the railroad tracks).

More info: 952-924-2565 or www.stlouispark.org/property_maintenance.htm#122.

John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633 or jewoldt@startribune.com. If you spot a deal, share it at www.startribune.com/blogs/dealspotter.