That smell? Just a mound of mulch that no one needs

May 03, 2004|By KEVIN COWHERD

HERE ARE THE words I never want to hear from your lips if you and I ever bump into each other: "Need any mulch?"

In fact, do me a favor, OK?

Don't mention mulch at all.

Don't ask me how my mulching is coming along. And don't tell me how your mulching is coming along.

Don't talk to me about mulch prices, either. Don't yammer on and on about the merits of that fancy black mulch and red mulch versus your standard brown mulch.

Because I'm not part of your sick cult.

My life does not revolve solely around mulching this spring, unlike the life of every other homeowner I come across.

I'm not obsessed with mulch!

Which is not to say I don't have, um, unresolved mulch issues of my own to deal with.

Such as the dreaded leftover-mulch issue.

What I've discovered again this spring is that people who sell mulch always seem supremely confident about exactly how much mulch you'll need for your yard.

"How much you lookin' to cover?" they ask you.

And no matter what dimensions you give them, they say something like: "Oh, you need 7 yards, easy."

Fine, you say. Give me 7 yards.

So one day a big truck arrives and dumps a load of mulch the size of Mount Rainier in your driveway.

That weekend, you get to it. You get out the wheelbarrow, the rakes, the garden gloves. You spread the mulch in every part of the yard that needs it.

At which point you discover that, say, five wheelbarrows-full is more than enough to cover your mulching needs.

Which means you now have approximately 122 wheelbarrows-full left over.


Obviously, you can't just leave a huge mound of ugly, stinking mulch sitting in your driveway.

So you start spreading more mulch on the areas you've already mulched.

Instead of having flower beds 3 inches thick with mulch, you make them 6 inches thick.

You spread more mulch around the trees. You spread more mulch around the bushes. You spread more mulch around the mailbox.

And at the end of all this, you discover you still have 117 wheelbarrows-full of mulch left over.

In fact, the mound of mulch in your driveway looks as big as it ever did.

So now, on a marvelous spring day, a day which began with you happy and carefree, you're consumed with one burning thought: How can I get rid of this stupid mulch?

So you offer it to your neighbors.

You go next door and rap on the screen door. And in a neighborly voice, a voice that you hope masks the rising anxiety you're feeling, you say: "Anyone need mulch?"

But, of course, they turn you down.

Because if you'd just open your eyes, you'd see that they, too, have a small mountain of stinking leftover mulch sitting in their driveway.

In fact, if you look up and down your block, there seems to be a small mountain of stinking leftover mulch in the driveway of every single house.

So now you'll call friends and family members who live outside the neighborhood.

In a voice meant to be cheerful and nonchalant - but which surely betrays the panic you're trying desperately to beat back - you say: "Folks, the darnedest thing! We have a ton of leftover mulch here. You're welcome to come over with a truck or something and take all you want."

At this point, you may hear laughing on the other end of the line. Or you may hear silence, the kind of deadly silence that normally greets, say, telemarketers.

Because, of course, these friends and family members have no interest in your mulch, either.

They, too, have huge mounds of stinking leftover mulch in their driveways.

And at this point, it hits you. You'll have this mulch in your driveway forever.

It'll never go away.

Years from now, when your kids graduate from high school, it'll still be there. It'll be there when they graduate from college, too.

It'll be there when you retire and sell the house and move to Florida.

And there's nothing you can do about it.

All because the man selling mulch on that warm spring day long ago said you needed 7 yards.

And you screwed up.

You listened to him.

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