Glendale resident Johnny Ventura could not be more pleased about the tree mulch dumped in his driveway on a recent morning.
The 64-year-old retiree uses the free urban wood waste from the Public Works Department for his front and back yards, as well as the walkway on the side of his house.
The city's code allows the mulch as ground cover to meet the requirement that 50% of all setback areas be landscaped with live plant material.
Ventura has taken advantage of Glendale's free tree mulch distribution five times since learning about the program two months ago.
"After seeing what I did, I called for my next door neighbor, and then my daughter wanted some too," Ventura said. "I have another neighbor I called for too and I helped set him up."
The mulch has decreased his household's water use while increasing his yard's water retention. From June to August, Ventura used 400 less cubic feet of water compared to the same period last year for a savings of about 3,000 gallons of water, according to his bills from Glendale Water & Power.
"I only have to water two days a week now — Tuesday and Thursday — even on these hot days we've been having," Ventura said.
Currently, landscape irrigation is limited to Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in Glendale.
"This started out as a low key, informal distribution to residents," said Dan Hardgrove, the acting maintenance service administrator for the Public Works Department. "This is not a budgeted program, but with exposure, we've seen an increase in demand."
The free mulch distribution program was mentioned in the city's publication, City Views, and Hardgrove said demand has skyrocketed in the past week. But so far, there are no immediate plans to turn the service into an enterprise, he added.
"We're going to continue this as a courtesy service for now," Hardgrove said.
Since January of 2009, Glendale has distributed just over 300 tons of clean mulch to residents.
Public Works has instituted a limit on the number of deliveries per address each year. If the demand continues to increase at the current rate, there will be additional parameters placed on the program, officials said.
"We need to save every drop of water," said Ventura. "If everyone was doing this, it would really help out the city of Glendale."
Residents can call (818) 548-3950 to arrange for delivery of mulch to their home or place of business.