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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Wipe Out Waste: Ask A Meck County Expert - It's Fall-Do I Need Mulch or Compost?

 Mecklenburg County Solid Waste experts receive hundreds of residential waste disposal and recycling questions weekly. To educate and empower Natural Awakenings readers, their experts provide updates and answer some of the most frequently asked questions in a bi-monthly column. 

It Is Fall: Do I Need Mulch or Compost for My Plants or Yard? What is the Difference Between the Two?

Fall is generally when we prepare yards, gardens, and green areas for the winter season. Mecklenburg County produces several varieties of mulch, along with organic compost for use on plants and yards. Frequent questions we receive are: how do you know which to use, where to get it, and how much does it cost?

Mulch is the woody-type material that generally goes around trees, shrubs, and plant beds and is beneficial because it holds moisture. Meck County makes several types of mulches from the separated yard trim materials that we receive.  The first type is Brush Mulch made from leaves and woody tree materials. Brush Mulch is free to all county residents at any of the county’s full-service recycling centers.  It is aged to meet temperature requirements from the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources to destroy any bad bacteria that may be present.  

The second type of mulch is Select Hardwood Mulch.  It is made from grinding tree bodies and does not contain leaf materials. It is generally a lighter color and is sold at $13.99 a cubic yard. Select Mulch is also sold in bags for $2.50 each. Dyed or colored mulch is also available in limited quantities from the Compost Central location. Meck County has started coloring mulch in dark brown and black for those customers who desire a more finished and consistent look. The price for dyed mulch is $26 a cubic yard.

Compost is the fine-grained organic product that is the result of 9 months of aging organic materials. Mecklenburg County compost is available at any of the full-service centers and is a great soil amendment material for growing plants and grasses. It generally needs to be mixed in with existing soils and will help soil retain water and provides a rich organic mix to the clay-ridden ground of NC.

The County also has a website specifically dedicated to your mulch and compost needs: You can view products or even find a company to haul the materials to your home.


If you have program questions about recycling, waste diversion or anything else related to waste, please visit To submit a waste disposal and recycling question, email [email protected]. Jeff Smithberger, Director of Solid Waste, answers the top seven residential recycling questions at

Mecklenburg Solid Waste - 2145 Suttle Ave Charlotte NC

Mecklenburg Solid Waste - 2145 Suttle Ave, Charlotte, NC

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