Leaves: Cheap Mulch for Winter

If you want to give your plants extra protection over the winter, mulching is a good idea. Many garden books recommend using straw or evergreen branches to help overwinter plants, but I've found those to be in short supply in my urban garden. (A very small bale of barley straw at the local garden centre is ten dollars!) However, dry autumn leaves are generally abundant and make an excellent mulch.

Some gardeners prefer to run their leaves through a power mower on a mulch setting to shred them. This may make them more attractive looking and less prone to blowing away. Some people claim it also makes them less likely to get matted, but I'm not sure if this is true. Lacking a power mower, I leave my leaves (ha ha) whole, and they generally work fine. In fact, most trees mulch themselves with whole leaves.

When should you apply your mulch? After a few heavy freezes, which is often about the time the leaves fall. So the easiest, cheapest way to mulch your garden beds would be to simply rake your leaves onto them, and spread them evenly a couple of inches deep, ensuring that the tops of plants aren't covered. Then hope they don't blow away before it snows!

1 comment:

  1. Even though I have tons of leaves, I have been using bark chips from a tree that came down at our house. The leaves I have been saving in a chicken wire enclosure, leaf mould is beautiful!
    When I had a smaller garden, my neighbours would give me bags of leaves that they had raked from their garden, I had to make sure that they were wet, so they didn't blow back into their yards! lol

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