04 Jun 2024

June Gardening

Now that summer has arrived, it is a good time to add mulch to the garden beds. Mulching is an important landscaping step that is often overlooked despite the fact that it provides many benefits to the existing landscape such as:

  • Improving soil structure and increasing water infiltration.
  • Preventing soil erosion and compaction.
  • Temperature moderation through insulation and moisture retention.
  • Weed control as the barrier that bark products create prevents many weed seeds from germinating, effectively reducing the need for chemical pesticides.


Raised Garden Beds

Highway Fuel Co. carries a wide variety of bark and compost products for use in the landscape. Our Bark Products are byproducts of the timber industry and are made locally in the Pacific Northwest using bark from cedar, fir, or hemlock trees. Our base compost is USCC Certified and is produced on-site from local recycled yard debris.


The benefits of using Cedar include:
  • It breaks down very slowly and won’t need to be replaced as often.
  • It naturally releases an oil that smells pleasant and repels some insects like mosquitos, ants, flies, fleas, and ticks.
  • When used as mulch it retains water, suppresses weeds, and provides insulation.
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Cedar Chips and Hog Fuel are nice, natural golden-colored bark products that are a great option to use as ground cover, paths, dog runs, and under play structures. 


Hemlock is known for its naturally beautiful long-lasting color. We carry both Red and Dark Hemlock. Red Hemlock is fresh and has a rich red/brown color whereas Dark Hemlock is aged, giving it a warm brown color. It can be used in soil mixes, as mulch, and on trails.  Hemlock Bark is a favorite for gardeners as it has the following benefits:

  • The fibers are soft fibers and therefore have fewer slivers than other bark products which makes it more child and pet friendly.
  • Beautiful, natural, long-lasting color.
  • When used as a mulch it retains water, suppresses weeds, and provides insulation.
  • Can help acidify the soil around acid-loving plants like azaleas, blueberries, rhododendrons, and trees.
Red Hemlock
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Fir bark is a favorite among landscapers and offers the following benefits:

  • Used as a soil amendment, it can help break up clay in compacted soils or provide erosion prevention on sloped areas, pathways, and running trails.
  • Can help acidify the soil around acid-loving plants like azaleas, blueberries, and rhododendrons.
  • Makes a nice mulch in flower beds and vegetable garden beds as it helps retain moisture, reduces weeds, and stabilizes the temperature.
  • Can be dyed either Red or Brown color, which will last 2 to 3 times as long and contain fewer slivers than the undyed product.
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Fir is the most popular bark product that we sell as it is an efficient and economical choice that creates a natural appearance. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors including Medium Fir, Dark Fir, Dark Fine Fir, Chips, Nugget, Hog Fuel. We also stock our dyed in-house fir products: Mocha Bark and Coastal Red. Fir bark is versatile and can be used as a soil amendment, in soil mixes, as mulch, and on trails. 


Fir bark is a favorite among landscapers and offers the following benefits:

  • Used as a soil amendment it can help break up clay in compacted soils or provide erosion prevention on sloped areas, pathways, and running trails.
  • Makes a nice mulch in flower beds and vegetable garden beds as it helps retain moisture, promotes healthy plant growth, and improves soil health to plants in an organic form.
  • Rich, dark brown color.
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For those in the need of mulch with a higher nutritional value, Compost is a great option. Our Base Compost is a popular and economical choice, though we also have additional options such as Fine Dairy Compost and Compost Mix, which is a mix of the two different types. Ask us about our USCC certified Compost!

Us Composting Council
05 Apr 2024

Celebrate Earth Day & Ag Fest with us!

We are looking forward to an exciting weekend Friday 4/26 through Sunday 4/28. Earth Day, Ag Fest, along with planting and gardening at home, let’s get ready for a great Summer!

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Who: Marion County community members are welcome to come party at the park. This event is family-friendly and free for everyone.

What: Get outside and enjoy earth-friendly activities to celebrate Earth Day.

When: Friday, April 26th from 3pm – 7pm

Where: Spong’s Landing County Park

Why: Learn about environmental work done by local agencies and celebrate our Earth with fun activities!



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Join us at the Oregon State Fairgrounds for over 25 hands-on activities for kids to learn more about where their food, fiber, and flora come from. Family fun includes horse and wagon rides, stage entertainment, food demonstrations, and much more! At Oregon Ag Fest, you can ride ponies, watch chicks hatch, dig for potatoes, plant seedlings, enjoy the petting zoo, and watch a sheep get a haircut.

We strive to bridge the gap between urban and rural life and to share the wonder and abundance of Oregon’s bountiful and diverse harvest. Most importantly, we do this in a family-friendly way, where kids 15 and under receive free admission, and virtually all activities at the event are free of charge. Come check it out for yourself: join us April 27-28, 2024 for the 32nd annual Oregon Ag Fest.

Kids 15 and under are FREE. 16 and over $15.00 admission. Saturday 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Parking is FREE courtesy of Ag Fest.

Sorry, no pets are allowed. Service animals only.

23 Jan 2024

New Composting Facility!

2023 was a big year for Highway Fuel. We are happy to announce that we have completed phase one of our new Composting Facility.

The lengthy process of permits, engineering, and construction has resulted in a cutting-edge facility that recycles local yard debris waste into a Premium Compost product.

Construction is taking place in two phases. Phase 1 took place this past summer. Phase 2 is scheduled for the summer of 2024.

We began composting this past Fall. We are excited to announce that our first couple batches of compost are full of microbial life, ready for use in your next landscaping project!

We inspect all our feedstock, follow all of our recipes, and record all temperature and moisture readings to make sure that our compost is kept aerobic (with air) throughout the entire process, as anaerobic conditions (without air) will create poor quality compost. Curing and screening result in a premium quality product that is ready to become an important part of many of our soil blends.
Highway Fuel’s new Premium Compost officially meets the requirements of the US Composting Council’s (USCC) Seal of Testing Assurance (STA) Program. The STA program requires compost manufacturers to be permitted and follow all required regulations. The compost must be tested regularly by a certified laboratory and the results must pass EPA standards for pathogens and metals to remain in the program.
02 Nov 2023

The rainy season has arrived!

Rainy Season Has Arrived!

November typically marks the beginning of the rainy season in Oregon, and this year it looks like it is going to arrive right on time as a burst of heavy rain and an atmospheric river are forecasted to drop 1 to 2 inches of rain in the Willamette Valley over the next few days.  This may cause some urban flooding impacts due to leaves blocking the storm drains causing water to pool on roadways.

The City of Salem has issued guidelines for residents and business owners to dispose of fallen leaves responsibly, as blowing or dumping leaves into the streets may block drains, potentially causing street flooding and water backups. Residents are encouraged to gather fallen leaves from their properties and place them in yard waste or compost bins for disposal. While it’s necessary to keep the leaves out of the storm drains it is also important to know that they do not belong in the landfill. There is no oxygen in a landfill to decompose organic matter properly, which causes anaerobic conditions and the generation of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. 

Leave Some of the Leaves

Turf grass is the single largest “crop” grown in this region which leaves a disproportionate ratio of lawn to garden in most yards and is the main reason we rake, mow, and blow leaves in our yards. While a thick layer of leaves is too much for turf grass to handle, a thin layer can provide benefits like adding organic matter to the soil, suppressing weeds, and moisture retention. Any remaining leaves can be piled up a couple of inches thick around ornamental trees, shrubs, and perennials and used as free mulch. Fallen leaves have a lot of the same properties as shredded wood mulch as they are high in Carbon. If you still have extra leaves that need to be disposed of, please take them to a composting facility such as Highway Fuel, where they will be safely recycled into compost.

05 Aug 2021

All About Raised Garden Beds

Raised bed gardens have become very popular with home gardeners because they can be made in any size or shape and placed almost anywhere. The idea is to plant a garden above the ground using a well-thought-out soil mixture, instead of tilling and amending the ground below. Raised garden beds offer the following benefits over in-ground gardens:

  • Instant gratification – you can have great soil without the wait. It can take years to break up and amend rocky or clay-based soils
  • They can help extend the growing season as the soil warms up quicker and drains faster in the spring
  • Keeps soil compaction to a minimum as there is no foot traffic
  • Aesthetically pleasing as they look neat and tidy because the soil is kept in place and the pathways can be filled with gravel or bark, which will also help keep the area weed free
  • They are more accessible as they can built in all shapes and sizes. They can be built tall enough to provide access for people in wheelchairs or to keep bending over to a minimum

Although raised garden beds offer many benefits, they do have a few disadvantages such as:

  • They are more of a permanent structure compared to in-ground gardens and must be dismantled order to change the area
  • Need more irrigation as they dry out quicker, especially in sunny areas
  • An initial investment is needed to build the boxes and fill them with soil


You don’t need a lot of space to build a raised bed, but you must find a spot that receives full sun most of the day, or at the very least six hours. There are many raised bed designs available, and the bed sizes and shapes vary widely. There are a few guidelines that should be followed when constructing a raised garden:

  • Height: 12-18” is ideal, however even as low as 6” can work and be productive as most feeder roots are in the first 6” of soil. Going higher than 18” can potentially cause more structural issues down the road, due to the weight and pressure of all that soil
  • Width: 4 feet is ideal, but three feet can also work. Four feet will allow you to easily reach the center from either side of the bed. It’s important that you don’t have to step into the bed to weed, plant, etc., as that will compact the soil and cause drainage issues
  • Length: Whatever length you need will work. If you stick within a four-foot maximum width, your length is only limited by your space and budget
  • Shape: Any shape will work if you stay within the 4-foot width and can reach all areas of the bed from the edge

One of the most important steps when of building a raised bed is constructing a good healthy soil. Healthy soil contains a complex soil food web that requires a healthy growing medium.
Raised Bed Soil:
The soil in the raised bed will create the environment that either promotes or hinders healthy plant growth. Despite its benefits, the particle size of potting soil is too dense to be used in raised garden beds. Soil can be engineered specifically for raised beds to give plants access to the air, water, and nutrients needed for growth. Healthy soil contains billions of microscopic organisms that all work together to break down organic matter and provide nutrients to plants. There is no need to feed plants with fertilizer, instead feed the soil and it will feed the plants.
Although raised bed soil is more expensive than lesser quality soils, it is best to invest in it as soil is one of the most important factors that determine the success of your garden. Using poor quality soil can have detrimental effects on root growth, which in turn leads to a shortage of produce. The ideal soil type to use in a raised bed is formulated using a combination of:

    • Compost (organic matter and microorganisms)
    • Sandy loam (which is essentially soil that is loose and well-draining)
    • Pumice (enhances drainage and holds moisture)

Highway Fuel’s Power Plant Mix has the ideal combination of Compost, Sandy Loam, and Pumice that makes it our recommendation for your raised bed gardening needs.