Mulch Season Is Coming

2018-02-26 – Mulch season is coming.

It’s still February, but the weather forecast predicts a couple days in the fifties. I had my bike tuned up last week and it’s ready to go and my mileage log for 2018 is ready for the first entry. Can spring be far behind?

Our winter has been fairly mild, but it has taken a toll on the landscape. My lawn has never been the epitome of suburban living. But that’s okay. I don’t live in the suburbs. I do, however, live across the street from a school and a park. Both places are fairly busy places and their lawns are mud.

In the park, the soccer/football areas are the worst. And the south end of the park, where neighborhood legend says a skating pond used to be, is the worst of the worst. As a former pond, it is the low point in the park and the grass is often soggy when the kids play. So it gets chewed up pretty bad. Every year or so, the park district has to come out to lay new sod or plant seed. Then it’s nice for a while. And then it turns to mud again.

The school is at the high end of the school-park complex. Chicago is a pretty flat place, so you might not see this immediately. But the difference is enough that water runs away from the school. As a result, the school landscaping is less about lawn maintenance and more about mulch.


I am not kidding. Spring is mulching season at the school and it’s coming up quickly. It’s fairly insane. Each year, the schools landscapers haul in a mountain of mulch and then distribute it to the base of all the trees and bushes on the school campus. Each year the mountain gets larger. When we moved into the neighborhood the mulch hill was the size of a beaver lodge. In recent years it’s been approaching the size of the Matterhorn.

Each year the circle of mulch around the trees and other plants grows. They’ve been doing this for years. I figure that, if you dug a hole to China, starting near one of the school’s trees, it would be mulch all the way down. On the weeks that they do the mulch, the smell of mulch hangs over the neighborhood for blocks around.

Last week, I wrote an email to the school’s assistant principal suggesting that they divert their efforts into lawn maintenance. My wife Kit thinks I’m crazy. She’s right. I’m crazy as mulch.

It’s a good thing that bike season and mulch season start around the same time.

I write these posts in advance and then schedule them to appear on my blog at the appointed time. The forecast for the appointed time today is the upper 50s, so while the blog-posting wheels are turning, I expect my bicycle wheels to be turning while I’m pedaling out on my first bike ride for the year. I plan to ride through the sculpture park along the North Shore Channel to Green Bay Road, then over to the Northwestern campus (they take good care of their lawns) and south along the lakefront to Rogers Park, and finally west by back streets to home. It’s my favorite short ride—10 or 11 miles—so a good way to start the season.

I don’t mulch or care for my lawn, other than to mow it. We’ve abandoned lawn in the front altogether and have been trying to get ground cover to grow there for years. Last year was the first year that the ground cover covered any part of the ground. Hopefully, it will take over more and more of the yard in the same way that mulch is taking over in the school yard.

Last year I biked just over 2,000 miles. This year I’m hoping to bump it up to 2,500. You can’t ride that many miles and worry much about mulch.

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One response to “Mulch Season Is Coming

  1. …the weekend squire who just came out to mow his lawn,
    another Pleasant Valley Sunday…

    –Gerry Goffin and Carole King

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