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Free mulch! Bring Xmas trees to boro sites

By Zach Patberg

This weekend the city's Parks Department is offering to take the trees and wreaths off your hands and recycle them into mulch at no extra cost.Mulchfest 2006 will kick off this Saturday and run both weekend days from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those Queens residents who do make the trip to one of the borough's seven drop-off sites, there are two options: donate your shredded trees and shrubs to the city's parks and gardens or keep the mulch for yourself.Parks spokeswoman Carli Smith said that of the 165,157 trees collected and recycled last year, 8,400 came from Mulchfest 2005.”We were very pleased with last year's results,” she said. “We're hoping to see about that if not more this year.”Mulch, Smith said, has a variety of purposes, from moderating soil temperature and retaining moisture to preventing soil compaction and deterring weed growth.”It's an opportunity to put trees that otherwise would be thrown away to better use,” she said.Some of the largest Queen sites include Forest Park, Juniper Valley and Astoria Park. Other locations are at the following parks: Roy Wilkins, Brookville, Cunningham and Rockaway Beach 94.Before arriving at one of the more than 40 sites citywide, participants are told to strip their trees and wreaths of decorations as they don't react well to the chipper.Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spoke at Forest Park for last year's Mulchfest, will this year visit Prospect Park in Brooklyn Tuesday, a spokeswoman said.For those who'd rather leave their holiday plant life at the curb, the Department of Sanitation will be around for pickups from Jan. 4 to Jan. 14.For more information on Mulchfest 2006 call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/parks.Reach reporter Zach Patberg by email at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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