Each year, Mother Nature provides gardeners and weekend warriors, alike, with an incredible gift: fall leaves. As it turns out, dry leaves create the perfect mulch for your garden or landscape. In this Backyard Life video, Joe Gardener host Joe Lamp’l demonstrates how to mulch fall leaves, all in just a few easy steps.
The Advantages of Mulching Fall Leaves
There are lots of materials mulch can be created from. Namely, wood, bark, straw or even hay. However, Joe’s favorite is whole leaves shredded into mulch. “It’s free and your soil and plants will love them.” Lamp’l explains, standing in front of an enormous pile of bagged leaves collected from his property, “I can’t think of anything better.”
Sourcing Your Leaves
The easiest way to get leaves for mulch is to rake them from around your backyard. However, if that’s not possible, there are other options for sourcing your leaves.
Lamp’l suggests reaching out to your friends and neighbors to get your hands on them for free. You can even reach out on social media sites like Facebook and Nextdoor. You’ll likely find plenty of folks who are more than happy for you to take dry leaves off their hands.
“Put the word out. You’ll be surprised what you hear back,” Lamp’l says. In fact, he was able to get loads of leaves in a single Saturday by simply asking around.
How to Make Leaf Mulch
Now that you have the leaves that are needed, it’s time to make the mulch. First, shred them into a compostable state that will continue to break down.
There are several ways to get that job done. If you have a leaf blower, you can suck up the leaves using the vacuum setting. All electric models offer this feature.
If you have a smaller amount of leaves to shred, you can put them in a garbage can and shred them with a stick edger. “It’s kind of like using a submersible blender for your leaves,” Joe explains.
But, Lamp’l’s favorite way to mulch leaves is by using a lawnmower. “I use the mulching feature, as well as a bag attachment,” he says. Joe simply lays out the leaves on his lawn and drives over them, letting the mower break them down to the perfect size for mulching. “It doesn’t matter how you do it. The only thing left to do is get it set up in a pile to break down over the fall and winter.”
Prepping for Planting Season
Lamp’l stores his leaves in a corral made of wire and posts. He then lets them set for 4-6 months so they’ll break down and become even more nutrient dense.
“By springtime, you’ll have the perfect mulch,” he says. And, as a bonus, mulch made from shredded leaves not only feeds your plants—it actively improves soil quality for seasons to come. Once you know how to compost leaves, Lamp’l thinks you’ll be hooked.
“Out of all the mulches I’ve tried (and, I’ve tried all of them), you can’t beat shredded leaves,” Says Lamp’l. “Give it a try, and you won’t regret it.”