Lawn and Garden Shop
Soil Improvement Information Series

Using Mulch To Improve Your Gardens Production

Mulch is an invaluable fertilizer for your garden. It enriches your soil and improves the texture and quality of it. Any kind of plant can benefit from a good mixing of mulch in its soil. Mulch provides protection from erosive elements and it helps to hold moisture into your soil and it can also reduce the amount of weeds you have growing in your garden. Mulch is basically a mixture of composted organic materials though there are some plastic mulches on the market which have come about due to landfill concerns and the effort to recycle. The best mulch is made from tree bark and there are varying costs from two dollars a bag on up. You can make your own mulch and save your money for the beautiful fruits and vegetables you will grow in your garden.

The first step to making your own mulch is to rope off a compost area in the back of the yard or off to the side where it will be out of the way but easily accessible. In order to start a mulch pile, you will need to find a patch of ground that doesn’t have anything important growing on it, as the mulch pile will quickly obliterate any grass or plants it sits on top of. The best way to get your mulch pile started is in the fall when the leaves are falling. If you rake all of your leaves up and place them on the mulch pile you will have a great start to some rich, dark mulch. Putting a piece of plastic over the pile can help with the decomposition, especially in the colder weather. Occassionally, you will want to turn over the contents of the pile with a shovel to encourage even decomposition of the mulch products. To your leaves, you can also add grass clippings, weeds, twigs, pine needles, fruit and vegetable peelings, newspapers, and any other organic material that comes into your possession. If you want to keep a clean mulch, however, stick to leaves, grass and plants. Let all of your neighbors know that you have a mulch pile and perhaps they will donate their leaves and grass clippings to you!

Keep the mulch pile turning and you will start to see your pile turning into crumbled bits which will soon resemble a deep, rich soil. In the Spring, when you are hoeing out your garden area, place about 3 inches of mulch on top of the soil and hoe it in gently over the top of the soil. Place mulch around the base of your shrubs and decorative bushes and trees as well to squelch weeds. If you have too much mulch for your needs, offer it to your neighbors who donated leaves and clippings during the year. Your mulch pile can always be added to as long as you keep it warm and composting it will settle and make room for more.

Making your own mulch is frugal and the benefits to your garden will be obvious when you see how your plants thrive with their brand new, homemade mixture!

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This website page was first published February 24, 2002.

This page was last updated August 20, 2018.