How to Use Leaf Mulch in Your Garden

How to Use Leaf Mulch in Your Garden

Autumn leaves, an organic material, provide you with a cheaper, more eco-friendly way to create a healthier lawn and garden space through a leaf recycling process. Using shredded leaves as mulch far exceeds wood mulch and synthetic mulch in cost and nourishment to your lawn, garden beds, smaller plants, flowers, houseplants, and plant roots. It also helps prevent soil erosion.

There is a new Karfo innovation that breaks down food waste from the comfort of your home. This valuable organic nutritional material, when added to your organic leaf mulch in your compost pile and the soil surface at any time of year, means more healthy soil for your lawn, garden beds, smaller plants, flowers, houseplants, and plant roots.

What is Leaf Mulch?

Using shredded leaves as mulch or leaf mold is nothing more than collecting all of the dead leaves fallen from trees and chopping the leaves into tiny pieces, and starting your compost pile in the autumn season. This organic material is one of the most nutritious ways to feed your lawn and garden areas, small plants, and plant roots organically. Using leaf mulch costs you nothing and far outweighs the benefits of buying bags of synthetic mulch. Shredded leaf mulch is a gift from nature to those who embrace recycling the environment in a compost pile.

Once leaves are composted, the mulch is piled three to four inches deep on the garden's topsoil, around flowers, other plants, trees, and shrubs. Shredded leaf mulch covers the topsoil. No other mulching process naturally protects and benefits gardens, lawns, trees, shrubs, and plant roots and makes healthy soil.

Making leaf mulch must be done when the leaves are as dry as they can get. Never start this process if it has rained and the leaves are rain-soaked or wet from the morning dew.

The leaves that cover your lawn in the fall season will decompose where they lie. However, this is not the best thing to do. It is best to rake these abundances of leaves. When these leaves are shredded and added to a compost pile, they start to decay, making a great organic material for lawns and gardens. The leaves turn into leaf mold. Leaf mold is the nutrient that is so good for your soil surface and aids in preventing soil erosion. Leaf mold is a nutrient that is extremely beneficial to your soil surface and helps to avoid soil erosion.

The Benefits of Using Leaf Mulch

Leaf mulch has numerous benefits. As the leaves in the mulch decompose in the compost pile, the decayed leaves add additional natural nutrients to make healthy soil. Other benefits of organic mulch include:

  • Reduces noise and greenhouse gases
  • Stops the spreading of toxins, contaminants, and dust in the air
  • Helps prevent soil erosion in sandy soil areas.
  • A free money-saving mulch
  • Cleaner and quieter
  • Reduces the need for lawn and garden fertilizer
  • Reduces the side effects of fertilizer
  • Avoids costly annual leaf collections
  • Chokes out weeds from the lawn and garden
  • Improves the roots of grass and other smaller plant roots
  • Provides a safe and warm living space for vital insects
Varieties of Mulch

There are many different types of mulch, and a few are listed in the following:

Organic Mulch

Organic mulch curbs garden and lawn weeds. It slowly releases valuable nutrients into the soil surface and conditions it. Leaf mulch, an organic material, helps insulate and protect the root system of trees, shrubs, flowers, smaller plants, and grass. Gardening needs depend on the mulch used, such as dyed wood mulch.

Organic mulch includes dried dead leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, bark, and pine needles. These natural materials break down slowly. Thus, these materials provide long-term protection from weeds, retain moisture, and help to insulate tree and plant roots, garden beds, shrubs, flowers, and vegetables.

Other alternative organic mulches for gardens that prove cost-effective include shredded newspaper layers, sawdust, and wheat straw. While sawdust and straw are excellent organic mulches, they use up the available nitrogen during decomposition. You must use a nitrogen fertilizer before and after the mulching process unless you invest in Karfo and recycle your food waste into your composting leaves.

Inorganic Mulch 

Inorganic mulch containing plastic, rubber, and minerals is often used. For example, the purpose of black mulch is to restrict and reduce weeds because this variety blocks out light. This mulch can also warm the soil due to black absorbing the heat more effectively.

Mineral Mulch

Mineral mulch is another variety made of gravel, chips of marble, limestone, volcanic, or river rock. Sometimes plastic sheets are laid down in gardens before applying the mulch. However, plastic helps prevent the evaporation of water and is not recommended.

Acidifying Mulch 

This is found in some organic mulch, such as pine straw, and works better around garden plants that thrive in acidic soils. Mulches such as those with sawdust and pine straw offer an acidifying effect that helps to reduce the soil's alkalinity.

Decorative Mulch 

Decorative much processed into a fine texture is used due to its cosmetic eye appeal in gardens. This mulch does not have as many benefits as organic mulch. Decorative mulch tends to blow away easily or wash away with rain. Some examples of decorative mulch are colorfully dyed wood mulch chips. Cocoa hulls, considered decorative mulch, contain high levels of potassium which can harm particular plant life.

How to Make Leaf Mulch

There are a few different ways to make leaf mulch. Below is one of the simplest ways. Specific tools to make mulch are a breeze when you learn how to make shredded leaf mulch. While these tools are helpful in leaf mulch processing, you never go into debt buying them. If all you have is a rake, this works well. Utilize other leaf mulching tools if they are available. You may have to use a few compost piles in bags or a compost bin.

  • Lawnmower with shredder
  • Leaf blower
  • Rake
  • Wood chippers
  • A compost bin
  • Black yard waste bags
  • Weed Wacker

The easiest first step is gathering up fallen leaves and mowing them with a lawnmower. Shredding the leaves and grass clippings helps speed up making leaf mulch. Once the leaves are shredded, store them in a compost pile in a compost bin or large lawn bags to store leaf mold. It is best to wet the leaves as this helps speed up the decompensation process through bacteria rather than fungal intervention.

There are a few different ways of making leaf mulch. However, you must mulch leaves until fine. This process begins in the autumn and proves to be the most eco-friendly, easiest, and cost-effective organic material used as natural mulch. If there is no compost bin available, black plastic bags work well but must be stored outside. It is important to puncture the bottom of the bag for drainage. It takes about six months for the leaves to turn into leaf mold.

When spring arrives, the result in these black bags is a soft mulch material that smells sweet as it surrounds your plants. The benefits are abundant. It is best to lay two or three inches of this mulch on the surface to make healthy soil in the spring and early summer.

There are various ways to compost leaves. The following video explains one of the easiest ways. While you can utilize fallen leaves and not process the leaves into leaf mold, there are drawbacks:

  • Whole leaves do not decompose. You must mulch leaves until fine.
  • Windy days quickly blow the leaves away.
  • If the leaves are too thick, they can impede the growth of early spring plants and flowers.
How to Use Leaf Mulch

The process of using shredded leaf mulch starts in the fall. When spring and early summer come, your leaf mulch is ready to spread throughout your garden, around plants, trees, and shrubs. Leaf mulch is a great way to tidy up the yard in the fall, and it also improves the healthy soil surface by supplying nutrients and avoiding soil erosion, which is especially important in sandy soil areas. Keep specific things out of the mulch when mulching leaves, such as:

  • Evergreen leaves
  • Holly
  • Pine needles
  • Camphor
  • Walnut
  • Eucalyptus

It takes a long time, years sometimes, for some of these materials to decompose. Some of these natural materials can also harm your plants. In the spring, add two to three inches of mulch around plants, trees, and shrubs in the garden.

Soil Temperatures

Soil temperatures are affected by the mulch you use. Some mulches increase soil temperatures up to 10 cm in depth. Organic mulch helps to retain soil moisture by helping to prevent water evaporation.

Is Mulching Leaves Good for Your Lawn?

While everything in life has pros and cons, leaf mulching has no cons and a long list of benefits for your budget and property. Making shredded leaf mulch does require a bit of work. When the fall season arrives, many must rake up blankets of leaves and put them in as many compost piles as needed, after you mulch leaves, in preparation for the winter. The benefits of recycling these leaves and grass clippings are as follows:

  • Save time and money
  • Never rake again; mow
  • Adds vital nutrients to the soil
  • Prevents soil erosion in sandy soil areas
  • Eco-friendly
  • Reduces the collection of trash
  • Decreases landfill methane
  • Feeds the lawn
  • Retain healthy soil moisture; regulates soil temperatures
  • Decrease weeds such as dandelions and crabgrass
  • Decrease fertilizer use
Leaf Mulch FAQs

Q. How is leaf mold different?

A. Tilling leaves into the soil surface that does not go through the composting process provides deficient nitrogen and naturally high carbon levels. For this reason, materials rich in nitrogen should be added to compost bins. What tiny amount of nitrogen there is in leaves before composting, the soil uses up, leaving none left to nourish plants. Thus, plants do not do well.

For leaf mold to be valuable to the soil and plants, leaves must have time to decompose. It takes an element of moisture for decomposition to take place. Once decomposition takes place in leaf mold, it is excellent for the soil.

There are two types of mulch, organic and synthetic. Organic mulch contains valuable nutrients, whereas synthetic mulch is used for eye appeal and to help to reduce weeds.

Refresh organic mulch every few months, depending on the variety used. Varieties of organic mulch that decompose quickly need refreshing more often. Bark mulch needs refreshing once a year, depending on how thick the layers are.


Q. Is leaf mold acidic?

A. The acidic level in leaves varies depending on the tree type. Some leaves have more or less acidic properties. Also, acidic levels depend on the level of decomposition. Given time for leaves to decompose, their average acidic levels rise to a pH level of six or seven. While some tree leaf varieties are recommenced for plants loving acid, others do not fare well in high acid soils. As the decomposition of leaves takes place, the acidity levels decrease.

Click Here to Know More about the White Mold Growing on Soil


Q. What about evergreen leaves?

A. Evergreen leaves make the soil more acidic and can change the pH balance in the soil.


Q. How does it compare to bark or wood mulch?

A. Once leaves are shredded, fully composted, and applied to the soil, this mulch or leaf mold provides excellent nutrients, offers great insulation for plant and tree roots, and retains moisture better. Wood mulch is used for decorative purposes.


Q. How long does leaf mulch last?

A. Mulches do not all last the same amount of time. While some mulch leaves lose their effectiveness after a few weeks, others can endure months. Other factors depend on how long that leaf mulch lasts, such as:

  • How deep the mulch lays
  • The climate
  • What the plants demand
  • How often the mulch is refreshed

Organic leaf mulch lasts at least three months and up to nine months, while bark mulch lasts at least three years and up to nine. How long organic mulch lasts depends on how thick the mulch layers are around the plants. The thicker the mulch, the longer it lasts. Lawns feed well off from grass clippings used as mulch. Using a lawnmower with a mulcher is ideal.

Using Organic Leaf Mulch versus Using Synthetic Mulch

The above list of shredded leaf mulch benefits far outweighs the use of synthetic mulch when it becomes an essential factor in providing the proper nutrients for lawns, plants, shrubs, and trees. At the same time, many individuals are not aware of the differences in mulch varieties and the impact certain mulches have on the environment and plant life. It is best to use organic mulch made by recycling food and yard waste and adding it to your compost bins to be returned to the soil in the spring.

Karfo is an excellent tool that helps dramatically with the composting process of using leaves as mulch and adds many nutrients to leaf mulch while composting. Using Karfo means,

  • Less waste in your garbage can.
  • Less waste in landfills.
  • It offers lower costs.
  • Richer soil enhances plant growth.
  • It helps prevent soil erosion.
Wrapping Up Your Lawn and Garden

This article holds valuable information about making leaf mulch and the many valuable benefits of placing organic mulch back into the soil from your compost piles. Your lawn, garden beds, smaller plants, house plants, trees, and shrubs will continue to thrive while providing eye appeal to those who appreciate a healthy environment when using leaves as mulch. Those who embrace recycling the environment should pass on these valuable tips and consider Karfo to assist you in recycling the environment.

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