Tired of buying overpriced bags of mulch, only to find that a few bags won’t cover the entire area you need? STOP. Just stop. Quit buying mulch and start making your own mulch at home. Homemade mulch is easy to make and is much healthier for your plants and garden than the store bought mess anyhow.
Why even use mulch?
Mulch is used for lots of reasons, besides making your flower and gardening beds look pretty. Mulch helps you save water, control weeds, and combat erosion. Organic mulch is made from natural ingredients, whereas inorganic mulches are made from rocks or landscaping fabric, and so on. Organic mulches are better choices for most gardens as they can add nutrients into your soil. Using a good quality organic mulch on your garden will actually help feed your plants the natural way.
Got trees or grass? You’re in business.
Do you have leaves, pine needles, or grass clippings? If so, you’ve got what it takes to make your own rich and healthy, organic mulch.
Fall is the perfect time to make your own mulch as leaves begin to fall. Collect leaves as they fall to the ground for your mulch. Fresh leaves should be ground or shredded. This encourages decomposition and will help add nutrients to your soil, and will keep your leaf mulch from matting up and becoming clump-like. If you have an older leaf pile to use, these leaves will not need to be shredded as much as they will already have begun the decomposition process.
You can also collect leaves and place them in a compost bin or area enclosed with chicken wire. Leave them until springtime, when they will be ready to be used as mulch. Don’t store your leaves in plastic bags as the heat during the decomposition process can actually melt the plastic into your mulch. You can add other organic matter to your leaf-mulch pile, such as bark, small stems, and grass. These organic items will add more nutrients to your leaf pile and will decompose along with the leaves.
Pine Needle Mulch
Pine needles are a popular mulch with many gardeners. They can be gathered in the spring and then spread immediately over your beds and garden. You can mix pine needles with your leaf or grass mulch, or use the pine needles alone. Plants that do well in acidic soil, like blueberries and hydrangeas, prefer a pine mulch as they offer a richer, more acidic mulch.
Grass Clipping Mulch
It is recommended that you allow grass clippings to decompose in a compost bin or other enclosure for a at least 6 to 8 weeks before you use them as mulch. Make sure you only use untreated grass clippings in your homemade mulch. If you spray your lawn or grass with any chemicals, other than natural fertilizer, do not use the clippings as organic mulch. Grass that is not fully decomposed will actually pull nitrogen out of your soil. Allowing the grass time to decompose will take care of this problem and will make your mulch nice and rich. Grass clippings can be mixed with leaf compost or even pine needle compost. The choice of mixture is entirely up to you.
Turn Your Mulch
While your mulch sits in a compost bin or other enclosure to decompose, you should turn it at least once a month. This allows for an even decomposition of materials and proper air circulation. Simply use a pitchfork or shovel to move the compost around – almost like “stirring” it. We call this turning the mulch.
Each month as you stir your mulch, you can start to take a little bit out and begin using it around the yard. By spring, the entire pile will be ready to go! Each year you just repeat the process, and you can gather items for the pile all year long.
You’ll never have to buy another bag of expensive commercial mulch ever again! (That feels mighty good.)