Employee Handbook

Employee Handbook

Federal Labor Law            L&I Calendar.        Working in the Heat                Your Safety #1

Workplace Safety.               Your Rights            Job Safety and Health Law

Environmental Safety/ Report.   Insurance        If an accident occurs           Proper Lifting

The Job/Seasonal


job description

As a gardener at Mulch On you work for the owner of the company. Sometimes the client will make requests when you are on the job, while most of the time it is not an issue all customer requests must be approved by Mulch On owner. A gardener's primary job is pulling weeds, by the root,  trimming small shrubs and digging up unwanted. dead or invasive trees and small bushes at times, we are not pruners. Some lifting required, bags of bark, wheelbarrow loads, bags of rock. Mulch On has an open door policy you may always say you are not comfortable with doing a certain task or any other concern you may have about your job or co workers. DO NOT TALK ABOUT IT WITH YOUR CO WORKERS FIRST. Come to me with any concerns! Honesty and truth are valued in this business. 

You will always have a co-worker on any heavy jobs. Must be able to be on your knees for much of your job. Most important to be in alignment with the priorities of each job. It's your responsibility to ensure you are working on the right stuff. Be thorough and efficient. Our clients pay us by the hour. If client requests a specific amount of hours you will see it on job posting. 4 4 hours of gardening is about the amount a body can take, you may think you can do a lot more but then will need to take time off to recover.The 4hour/4 day workweek is designed to give your body and mind adequate rest.  

Our goal is to make having a gardener affordable. 


This position was created so that we could take on more jobs and/or in the event of my absence. If your lead/supervisor is giving you direction it is coming from me as I have directed them to do so. 

This position is filled by one of our seasoned gardeners who demonstrates skill in all of our many tasks, dependability, compassion, kindness, and awareness of co workers, job expectations, compliance and clients vision and budget. 

With these qualities the lead or supervisor will make sure each gardener is assigned a section and has absolute clarity on how the end product should look and how long it should take. 

The lead will communicate with both Mulch On owner/Crew boss and home owner if needed.

Lead will give reminders to punch in and out and what time job needs to be complete. Understands that customer is paying by the hour and most of our clients have a set time limit. Lead will make sure job is done at specified time and will periodically check on progress of each crew member to see that they are on track and/or need to move to a different task. 

Reporting to Jan or Crew Boss any concerns about co workers if not comfortable addressing concern on site is another valuable asset in our company structure to ensure we are all on the same page. 

Crew Boss

This position is to filled by a skilled gardener 

  • leadership skills with a kind and respectful vibe that our company envelops 
  • dependable consistent availability to be on the job each day we have jobs.
  • able to develop a close rapport with all of our clients  
  • will be on site of the start of each job (as possible) to assign areas that need to be cleared according to what the client feels is most important. 
  • responsible to carry and maintain power tools/larger hand tools and will deliver and pick them up at end of day as needed. 
  • able to assist with any large jobs as needed just as I have in the past and 
  • will take care of any haul outs. 
  • responsible for  reminding everyone to punch in and out and  
  • filling out the worksheet for client record that will also have crew hours and break times listed (report to Crew Boss when on breaks.) 
  • Worksheet to reflect in detail all that was performed on the job
  • Give estimates for potential clients. 
  • will take inventory of  company tools after each job and will remind each gardener to take personal inventory for their own tools etc prior to leaving job. 
  •  will pick up payments if client prefers to pay by check or cash.
  • guide and direct crew to do a good job, correct if not performing up to our company standards. Report any violations or conduct issues to owner promptly. 

Design Lead:

This position is to be filled by skilled gardener and designer:

  • Meet with client to discuss clients likes, wants and dream garden.
  • Draws up design with low maintenance and low water usage in mind, using Spokane Scape techniques, within 1 week of initial meeting. 
  • Acquire measurements and estimate of amount of materials to be used.
  • Consult with owner on all decisions and be receptive within reason.
  • Locate and purchase plants and other features. 
  • Understands that Mulch On owner has final decision on the design and ability of crew to accomplish it.
  • When working on installation as part of crew will be giving direction to other crew members. All crew members must adhere to designers plan. If unclear of plan please call me or if I am there talk to me directly.  

Office Assistant

Office assistant must be friendly and able to answer inquiries by phone to gather information and to set up meeting time with consultant for design or estimate for jobs. Must be social media savvy and be able to post on business IG. Will have access to Yardbook to upload before and after pics. 

 file all worksheets and log in employee hours

Submit hours to online payroll and print checks

make copies of all forms as needed. 

Office assistant will also have access to online HR for employee reviews and conferences.

March/April- Spring Clean up

May-June- Planting and maintenance

July-Aug- Maintenance and garden sitting

Sept-Oct-Maintenance and fall clean up.

Mulch On History

Mulch On was created summer of 2021 during a pandemic to meet a threefold need.We provide the following:

  • Weed pulling and design for small scapes and gardens,
  • Jobs for people with a passion for gardening, beauty, saving the earth and the bees!
  • Alternative workplace for people who want to work outside and reap the benefits of working in the soil
  •  In 2022 we joined Spokane Scapes Professionals to promote and create low water usage lawns and garden. 
SpokaneScape technique to prevent weeds
SpokaneScape technique to prevent weeds
Completed Project with Drought tolerant and Deer resistant plantings
Completed Project with Drought tolerant and Deer resistant plantings

Our Mission

"To show kindness and respect for each client and their garden...to leave the property neat and clean..to achieve our clients garden vision...to end weed population by hand pulling weeds and putting the mulch on...to encourage drought tolerant landscapes and pollinator gardens..to make gardening affordable, to save the earth"


Non Solicitation and Privacy: As a Mulch On Employee you agree to not directly or indirectly solicit business from or attempt to sell, license or provide the same or similar products or services as are now provided to our clients of Mulch On. Furthermore you will not directly or indirectly solicit induce or attempt to induce any employee of Mulch On terminate his or her employment with Mulch On during your employment or for the 18 months after terminating your position. You will not at any time or in any manner, either directly or indirectly use , divulge, disclose or communicate in any manner for your personal benefit or profit any information that is proprietary to Mulch On or Mulch On clients during your employment or for 18 months after you terminate. You agree to refer to the Owner of Mulch On on all issues related to the creative design and operational management of each garden and job. This is a legally binding contract. By reading this you are acknowledging the contents of contract and agreeing to them. You will sign a document stating your acknowledgement and agreement to this and all policies.

Our Policies

Schedule and hours

Gardening is relaxing and meditative but also very hard physical labor. We sweat!! I have adopted a 4 day work week. Monday-Thursday because you need the rest. Most days are 4-6 hours. We may start earlier to beat the heat in the summer and we may cancel a job due to rain or snow to be rescheduled and possibly have to work a longer day.

Your schedule is posted on Yardbook. I will text you details or put them under notes.

We do not work holidays or weekends.

You can expect 16-20 hours per week or less, depending on how many jobs we have. We are still a growing business. You will be given a cash incentive for any paying clients you bring in. You cannot work for any of the Mulch On clients for a lower rate. Although at the end of season if they request leaf raking and you want to do that I will give them your contact. See contract below. We do not do lawn care or rake leaves , although we end up doing some in spring in garden beds. 

Because our day is only 4 hours we work straight through. Travel between jobs is not included in your daily pay. All clients addresses are in Yardbook app, you can use your GPS to find each location. We do try to keep all jobs for the day in one area so you may carpool if you want to. You will receive an extra 0.5 hour on your check for each job that is over 10 miles from downtown Spokane. We use HOMEBASE to clock in and out. You must clock in when you arrive and clock out when job is done, not when you get in your car. You must take before and after pictures and send them to Mulch On owner, and if you are lead on the job you must send details of what you did for the sake of informing the client on invoice. If you cannot access Homebase text when you arrive and when you leave. 

Always take a break if you need to but you will not get paid for it unless you work more than 4 hours then you are entitled to 15 minutes for every 4 hours. Clock out for breaks. We do not charge our clients for breaks. Tell your supervisor when you go on break and then when you get back.

Always call the main office number if you have any questions or concerns.509-768-3607

Your supervisor will also be signing you in and out of each job. WE NO LONGER USE TIME SHEETS HOWEVER YOU CAN TRACK YOUR HOURS ON YOUR OWN.

Time sheets are done by your lead on the worksheet. You must use HOMEBASE to clock in and out. You must also text me a summary of what you accomplished for client. If there is a supervisor on job they will do summary.

What you need to start the job

One pair of protective eye gear to be worn when operating any power tools, at least 3 pair of heavy duty garden gloves that you will wash in laundry between jobs. Some weeds have spores and can be transferred to other gardens so extreme caution is used when dealing with these. (You must wear gloves for protection against injury or infection. If you refuse to wear gloves you must sign a waiver releasing Mulch On from any responsibility for any injuries incurred as result) you will also need your own trowel, popper, small hand shovel, bypass pruner, broom and dust pan, Shuffle hoe. Any tools you use from Mulch On or my tool kit must be signed out. Do not borrow any tools from your team.

You will be shown how to identify weeds and the best way to dig or pull them up. Weeding is a skill, and there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. If you refuse to do it the right way you will receive a verbal warning, followed by written warning then termination.
The reason is because if you do not pull weeds the right way the first time you are wasting your time and the clients money.

You can download the "picture this" app to identify weeds there is a free version and a paid. Some weeds are identified as annuals so always ask your lead.

Simple tools ( as in physics) are used in gardening and you will be taught the basics of body mechanics when lifting and must use wheelbarrow for any heavy hauling to prevent any injuries. The kit in above picture is from Amazon for $36 You can also get most of them at dollar store in the spring. Most of the time you will be working in teams of 2 or 3.

Larger tools will be provided rakes, shovels, hoe, pitch fork, trench digger, hedging shears, leaf blower, weed hacker and a bucket for weeds. You must sign out these tools and return them at end of day or job. Depending on job. Buckets must be returned at end of season. Any tools you signed out for not returned will be deducted from your final paycheck.

You may have your phone on while you work but only use while on breaks. No social media posting during work hours. You may listen to music at a low level that does not disturb your crew or the client. No headphones for safety reasons. You can use your phone to take before and after photos for Yardbook. Forward them to Mulch On email Yardbook or home office.

Always be kind and respectful of fellow staff members, client and their garden/yards and property.

Remind owner that you are on the clock if they engage in conversation and that you have another client that Is expecting you at a certain time if you cannot seem to break away.

Keep track of your tools and other personal belongings, KEYS, HATS,GLOVES and do inventory before and after each job. Do not gather up all tools in clients yard to be helpful to your fellow crew members as this results in fellow crew members losing their tools or possibly getting mixed up with yours. Keep your hand tools in a small bucket or other bag and larger tools in clear sight. Clearly Label your tools. Colored duct tape or spray paint are good options.


Always call the main office number if you have any questions or concerns.509-768-3607

Team Work: 

Always be kind and respectful of fellow staff members, client and their garden/yards and property.

When working as a team pick an area and make it beautiful, never take over someone else area. Respect all company tools, do not rake too vigorously with expandable rake, use large heavier rake. If you borrow company tools and then lose them you will be charged for replacement. We will not rake up bark if at all possible . Many clients are on fixed incomes and are not gardeners, we will try to make their garden beautiful with what is on hand. 

You will recognize that the company owner as the sole authority on all company or job issues and will use the chain of command if you have any questions regarding design or plants that you are unsure of. 

Never pull up a plant if you are not sure if it is a weed or a perennial. Use identifier and also ask supervisor. 

Place yard sign in yard while doing the job if available.

Each job will have specific time frames .


Take a 15 min break for every 4 hours you work.Must do a walkthrough with client prior to each job. If client is telling supervisor or lead person what she/he wants done, please do not make this a time for a lot of questions or comments which will make the walk through too long and result in starting late. 

Just listen and try to get it all done the way they want it.

If dog excrement is present please ask owner to pick up.

WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR CLIENTS PETS. BUT BE SURE THEY ARE SECURED PRIOR TO JOB if not must reschedule and leave the card at door. Always keep gates closed while on the job and when you leave double check.


Mulch On has an open door policy you may always say you are not comfortable with doing a certain task such as lifting heavy things etc. Never lift anything without using proper body mechanics and asking for help and use a wheelbarrow. You will always have a co-worker on any heavy jobs. Must be able to be on your knees for much of your job. Training is done on the job You will be notified of place and time via Yardbook App. If you are training on the job you will be given regular pay rate. It is most important to be in alignment with the priorities of each job. It's your responsibility to ensure you are working on the right stuff. Be thorough and efficient. Our clients pay us by the hour. Our goal is to make having a gardener affordable. 


Everyone starts at the same base wage (above minimum wage) and will be eligible for pay raise in 1, 3 months and at end of season. Raises are based on performance and attendance. 


It is okay to accept a tip if a client offers a cash tip for a job well done. A tip given to one crew member must be split among the other members of the crew. If client includes tip with payment it will be split among crew and dispersed with your check in cash along with a note of who it is from. 


Washington State Law requires that you accrue 1 hour of paid time off for every 40 hours worked to all employees regardless of full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal status. You begin to accrue PTO day one of work and may use them after first 90 days for sick or vacation, will rollover to next year. Up to 16 hours or 2 weeks. You can see how much you have accrued on your paystub.


Vacation or other time off needs to be requested at least one week in advance if possible. Sick call must be called in or texted to office/Mulch On owner the night before work day. Failure to call in or a no-show is reason to terminate your employment


Failure to call in or no show, leaving a job(not done well) and coworker to finish alone without  checking in with supervisor first, disrespectful behavior towards fellow staff and company owner, lying, stealing, cheating, drugs or alcohol at the workplace will result in immediate termination without probation, warning or disciplinary action. If you cannot complete a job you must call or text me to explain. We never rush through a job to get done faster or not give the intended amount of work client was expecting. Working for one of Mulch On clients on the side for lower pay. 

Non Compliance:

You will be shown how to identify weeds and the best way to dig or pull them up. Weeding is a skill, and there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. You must use a digging tool to get to the root of the weed. Pulling the tops off is ineffective. If you refuse to do it the right way you will receive a verbal warning, followed by written warning then termination.

The reason is because if you do not pull weeds the right way the first time you are wasting your time and the clients money. Clients watch us. They know the correct way and can tell if you are only pulling the top of the weed out. 

Ethics Obviously!

Maintain high ethical standards. No lying, stealing, cheating, gender based harassment, drugs or alcohol on job site. Be mindful of your conversations and the how loud you are.

Kindness and respect are your guiding principles

Annual background checks for everyones safety.

No drugs or alcohol or smoking while on the job.

No complaining to coworkers about the job, come to me!

Violation of safety rules:

Wear protective gear when operating power tools and gloves to protect your hands. 



We require each gardener to examine with the client the placement of drip line and sprinkler system. Mark with orange flags initially and any breaks in system noted prior to starting job report to owner and to me. Flag any pipe you may have damaged and notify owner and me.


We will have replacement stopcocks and connectors for drip lines in case of accidental cut or snip. And some training on how to do this. Supervisor and Client must be notified of any incidents regardless of severity.


You will need to have your own car and health insurance and maintain a valid drivers license. You are responsible for any car accidents while on the job, L&I is not a substitute for car and health insurance but is available. Mulch On carries general liability insurance.


Mulch On is responsible for inspecting every clients in ground sprinkler system prior to starting a job. Look for areas in lawn or garden bed that appear to have been dry for a long time and ask owner about it. Lines need to be marked with orange flags and drip lines identified. If any drip lines are found to be broken or without stopcocks report to owner immediately and to your lead asap.

Mulch On is not responsible for our clients pets, and will always ask them to keep pets corralled or inside while we work as well as pick up pet excrement prior to the job. We will however ensure that all gates and enclosures are secure before we leave. If at anytime you do not feel comfortable with clients pet notify your supervisor immediately so that we can call owner and deal with situation. CLOSE GATES EACH TIME YOU ENTER OR LEAVE!!!

We do not use our clients bathrooms. On each job prior to arriving you must locate the nearest public restroom and utilize your break time to drive to it. Because we only work 4-5 hour shifts it is possible that you may not need to use the bathroom until your shift is over. Please keep this in mind when preparing for the day. We want you to stay healthy and strong so we do encourage hydration and to bring your own water bottle. Plan accordingly.

Part of your job is to find out where the good bathrooms are. Some suggestions are large grocery stores, Rosaurers, Target, Lowes, McDonalds. Avoid drug stores or places that require a key to the bathroom or for you to have to buy something in order to use it. 

Neat and clean Its our calling card!!

Be sure to leave each project looking neat and clean. At the end of each job use the leaf blower or broom and dust pan even on the dirt if you see any unevenness that makes it look messy. This is also a time to look for weeds you missed. Large weeds have been found on this final sweep.

Strive to make it beautiful. Use your broom to sweep up any debris from paths or drive ways and then a light sweep with mini broom to garden bed if needed to make it look even and clean. Free of random leaves or petals. Use the expandable rake on the grass at least one foot around the perimeter.

Our clients dream is our mission

You will never be asked to do a consultation, but eventually with experience will be able to do an estimate. Most estimates however will be done by myself.

If a client asks for anything above and beyond what is on your work list you must call or text me!! 

An estimate is simply estimating how much time it will take to complete the desired job the clients want done. After you have worked for a few months you will have a pretty good idea how long a job will take you to finish. 

A consultation is when client and owner/designer meet to discuss a plan for a new small scape, raised garden beds, drought tolerant plants and pollinator garden that we will design, initiate and help to maintain for years to come. The client is given a step by step plan that may take a few years to complete. The end result will be a garden that can withstand our particular climate and require little maintenance. These designs are assigned to the seasoned gardener who best fits the clients needs.

Types of mulch

We believe that applying mulch is the best way to control the spread of weeds. It does so by preventing sunlight from reaching the weeds and eventually they die out. It is essential that you know the basics of mulching.

Two rules of mulch:

#1 lay the mulch down on soil that is already weeded, and

#2, lay down a thick-enough layer to discourage new weeds from coming up through it.

A 3-four-inch layer of mulch will discourage weeds, although a two-inch layer is usually enough in shady spots. If you know that a garden bed is filled with weed seeds or perennial roots, try a double-mulching technique to prevent a weed explosion. To do so, set plants in place, water them well, spread newspapers or cardboard and top it with mulch.

Mulches that also retain moisture (like wood chips) can slow soil warming.

The Warm Crops like basil, eggplant, pole beans, and tomatoes germinate best with warmer soil temperatures.

The Cool Crops prefer the lower temperatures of spring and autumn, and includes beets, carrots, salad greens, and turnips (see below).

For all seeds, if soil temperatures are too cold, they will not sprout. If temperatures are too warm, they either will not germinate, or, they will grow too rapidly, and fail to mature properly or die off. Ever see a crop bolt? That's the result of too much heat. will also notice that some crops known to grow nicely in cool conditions actually respond best to extra warmth for seed germination, yet mature best in cooler temperatures. Clearly, nature is not concerned with convenience.

In spring, pull mulch away from perennials and bulbs for faster growth.

A wet mulch piled against the stems of flowers and vegetables can cause them to rot;

keep mulch about one inch away from crowns and stems.

Mulch piled up against woody stems of shrubs and trees can also cause rot and encourages rodents (such as voles and mice) to nest there.

Keep deep mulch pulled back about six to 12 inches from trunks.

Straw:ORGANIC Good for Raspberry and strawberry gardens. Helps keep the water that is given to them from evaporating so fast and prevents weeds from overtaking the area. Just make sure you opt for a weed and seed-free hay, and avoid piling it around stems of vegetable or fruit tree trunks to prevent slug and rodent damage. Make sure it is biodegradable processed weed free.* We have purchased weed free mulch and soil that contained an invasive weed called "hairy bittercress" The owner contacted the company and they refunded her all her money. We will need to keep on top of this weed until we eradicate it.

Bark or Wood Chips:ORGANIC Bagged brown, black or red mulch is the best. Spread a wood chip or shredded leaf mulch anywhere on your property, but it looks best in flower beds, shrub borders, and garden pathways. Of course, it's right at home in a woodland or shade garden. Keep in mind that wood chips aren't a smart choice for vegetable and annual flower beds, since they'll get in the way as you dig the beds each year.

Pine Needles:ORGANIC Good weed suppression; stay in place well; good on slopes; slow to break down; increase acidity, which benefits some plants (blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, and some types of conifers).:

Leaves ORGANIC If you have trees on your property, shredding the fallen leaves creates a nutrient-rich mulch at no added cost. You don't need a special machine either: a lawn mower with a bagger will collect leaves and cut them into the perfect size for mulching.

CompostORGANIC: Must be moist best to spread as a thin layer around plants and top it with another mulch, such as chopped leaves. This allows the compost to stay moist and biologically active, providing maximum benefit for your vegetables, fruits, or flowers.

CardboardOrganic:Reusing cardboard for the garden provides compostable material, kills pesky weeds and develops a bumper crop of earthworms. Cardboard in the garden will also kill lawn grass and help you get a new bed ready for veggies, ornamentals or whatever you want to grow.It provides good insulation from heat. 

Rubber mulch does a better job of insulating plants from heat compared to wood chips and other organic materials. In "indoor" gardens like sun-rooms and solariums, it is especially beneficial because it does not break down and emit a rotting smell. NOT RECOMMENDED


When you want your soil to be cool and when you want it to be warm.

Soil temperature is critical for seed germination. Also, if the soil temperature when the seed is germinating is too hot or too cold, subsequent plant growth will likely be adversely affected. ... Any heat stored in the soil as the days grow warmer will be retained longer. Soil moisture also affects soil temperature.

if soil temperatures are too cold, they will not sprout. If temperatures are too warm, they either will not germinate, or, they will grow too rapidly, and fail to mature properly or die off. ALL SEEDLINGS NEED LIGHT.

You can leave it in place for heat-loving vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, but because plastic isn't permeable, ensure that these plants receive enough water.

A bit later in the spring as the soil warms and dries, we begin to spread organic mulch around trees, shrubs, and perennials.

Some garden seeds like cool soil and you can plant early in spring. like greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. Organic mulch applied at the time of planting will keep soil cool for successful seed germination.


Bark Mulch: 7-10 years

Wood Chips: 5-7 years

Cocoa Shells: 2-4 years

Straw: 1-2 years

Leaves: 6-18 months

Grass Clippings: 1-6 months(may have toxic weed killer in them)