By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 3/7/21
Residents may be interested in getting back in their gardens, and composted mulch from Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) is again available, free for pickup, at the LCU Foothills Landfill Composting Facility at 555 S. Sonoma Ranch Blvd.
“The free composted mulch is part of the circular economy of yard waste that we have in Las Cruces. We process the yard waste that residents dispose of in clear bags and leave out for the Green Grappler and turn it into something they can reuse in the future,” Robin Lawrence, LCU deputy director Solid Waste, said.
As part of LCU residential Solid Waste service, the Green Grappler can pick up an amount equal to two level half ton pick-up truck loads or 4 cubic yards, which is equivalent to four 5’x3’x2’ adjacent piles. Larger loads may be scheduled for pick up for an additional charge and can be arranged by calling Customer Central at 575-541-2111.
Yard waste is chipped, piled up, watered, turned, and left in the sun to "cook" at temperatures above 131 degrees to destroy weed seeds and pathogens to make the compost useful for landscaping and gardening.
The water that is added is reclaimed from the nearby LCU East Mesa Water Reclamation Facility. It’s a bit of a science and LCU operators at the facility are all certified as Compost Facility Operators through the New Mexico Environment Department Solid Waste Bureau.
“A layer of mulch is helpful for dust abatement, erosion control, and provides great ground cover to hold moisture longer, which in turns helps to conserve water and promote re-vegetation,” Lawrence said. It should be noted that the product is not screened, so residents may find some larger chunks of wood in the mixture that can be added back to their next Green Grappler pickup pile.
The facility is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Residents are encouraged to take what they need, even filling up a pickup truck. If a truck is not available, LCU recommends bringing buckets and don’t forget a shovel. Residents are also encouraged to utilize the Green Grappler or deliver their yard waste to the facility during their spring cleanup. As a reminder, any trees or branches need to be cut into pieces shorter than 5-feet in length and smaller than 5-inches in dia meter.
For another boost to the garden, residents can also pick up free Class A+ biosolid compost at Jacob Hands Wastewater Treatment Facility (JHWWTF) on Amador Ave and Motel Blvd. LCU requests residents make an appointment at 575-528-3597 for pickup of pre-filled buckets or to fill their own. For those who might need more, LCU will fill truckloads at the West Mesa location.
LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: Residents picking up free composted mulch at the Foothills Landfill Composting Facility. Bring a pickup truck or some buckets, a shovel, and get as much as needed.