If you want to save money when it comes to gardening, using fallen leaves as mulch would be your best option. This has always been a great idea, but there are also some warnings you should know about. We all know that mulch helps with regulating the soil temperature. It keeps hot summer sun from heating the soil too much and keeps the soil warmer through cool nights. Even temperature plays a key role in strong, healthy plant growth. However, you should also know a few tips and tricks to use fallen leaves as mulch so they can be effective.
1. Shredding is very important
Thus, if you want to use those fallen leaves as mulch, you need to understand that shredding them first is a very important trick. You could do it with a shredder, a mulching mower, or a leaf blower on the vacuum setting. That way, a light layer of small, thin leaves it is easier to apply and it will be more effective.
For instance, if you use a thick layer of leaves as a mulch, you can actually block air and water from getting in the ground. And you don’t want that. Basically, a thick layer of leaves is similar as too much moisture. Hence, it will damage the plants that need well-drained soil or are susceptible to rot and other fungal diseases.
2. After shredding, you can make the organic mulch
Once you shred the leaves, you can prepare the mulch in your compost bin. Thus, pack the leaves up in bags for spring mulch use. You could also leave the mulch on your lawn to act as a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. After you shred the leaves, they can be used as an organic mulch in flower beds, vegetable gardens, under trees and shrubs, or in container gardens.
Simply apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of shredded leaves to the beds, keeping the mulch from directly touching the stems and trunks of the plants. The mulch retains moisture in the soil, stays cool, and limits weed seed germination. As a bonus, the leaves add nutrients to the soil as they break down, and the worms and soil microorganisms work on them as well, resulting in lighter, fluffier soil over time.
3. Spread deeply under shrubs
Rake the fallen leaves under the skirts of shrubs for a weed-suppressing mulch and nutritious compost all in one. Shrubs of woodland origin can easily handle a deep mulch of leaves, though any groundcover plants under them may smother.