By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Composted mulch from Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) is now ready for the planting season. More than 20 tons of free composted mulch – made from local green waste – is available to residents and businesses at the Old Foothills Landfill (OFL), 555 S. Sonoma Ranch Boulevard.
But it’s going fast, so don’t wait.
Residents may have seen the Green Grappler cruising through their neighborhood to pick up clear plastic bags filled with yard clippings and leaves, and stacked piles of branches. Or, they may have dropped off their residential green waste without charge at OFL.
That’s just part of the journey: to become composted mulch, the green waste undergoes a nine to 12-month composting process that includes “cooking” in the hot sun and reaching temperatures between 135 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time. Moisture from reclaimed water is added to speed the process, and the hills of green waste, known as “windrows,” are turned regularly. It’s an exact process that has to be learned.
“That’s why all of our operators are certified by the New Mexico Environment Department Solid Waste Bureau during a three-day composting course,” said Robin Lawrence, LCU Solid Waste administrator.
Composted mulch is very useful for dust and erosion control and provides ground cover to hold moisture in the soil, which, in turn, helps conserve water and promotes revegetation.
Max Gonzalez, lead heavy equipment operator and certified LCU composter, said the very best way for customers to get the free mulch is to get a truckload, and come during the week if possible.
“It gets busy on Saturdays, and since we’re closed Sundays, coming during the week goes quicker,” Gonzalez said.
The Old Foothills Landfill is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday. If someone who wants free compost doesn’t have a truck, they should bring buckets.
If someone comes to the OFL to deliver yard waste, in particular palm trees and yuccas, they should make sure palm tree and yucca branches are cut into pieces shorter that 5-feet in length and smaller than 5-inches in diameter because LCU’s chipper cannot handle larger pieces.
As part of residential solid waste service, LCU’s Green Grappler will pick up an amount every month that is equal to two level half-ton pickup truck loads, or 4 cubic yards. Larger loads may be scheduled for pick up for an additional charge. Call Customer Service at 575/541-2111 to schedule additional pick-ups and obtain current fees.
Residents can call Las Cruces Utilities at 575/528-3500 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.