Fall mulching with organic material helps soil hold moisture. It also prevents the sprouting of cold-tolerant weed seeds. Best of all, the materials are free.
Instead of bagging leaves or pine needles for the trash, use them to make free mulch.
Don’t use whole leaves as mulch, as they create a mat that smothers plants’ roots.
The easiest way to grind up leaves is with a shredder. No shredder? You can use a lawn mower.
MAKING AND USING LEAVES AS MULCH:
- Rake leaves into a pile.
- Use a leaf shredder to grind leaves, catching the pieces in a bag or large container.
- Follow all safety directions and wear gloves and eye protection.
- Or rake the leaves into a wide layer a couple of inches high. Pass over the leaves a few times with a lawn mower, mowing them into smaller and smaller pieces.
- Rake the pieces into a bag or large container.
- Pile the shredded leaves 2” to 4” deep around plants. Keep the mulch 1” away from plant crowns. Do not volcano mulch; mulching up to the stems can kill the plant.
MAKING AND USING PINE NEEDLES AS MULCH:
- Rake pine needles into a bag or container.
- Pine needles don’t need to be shredded. They can be used as is.
- Pile the needles approximately 2” to 4” deep around plants. Keep the mulch 1” away from plant crowns. Mulching up to the stems can kill the plant.
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