Go to the home page fixing our house Making leaf mulch (leaf mold)

Step-by-step Guide to Making Leaf Mulch

The goal in making mulch for your spring garden is NOT to decompose the leaves into compost. Rather, you want them to break down only slightly over the winter months so they will become an effective mulch for you in the spring.

First, pile your leaves and keep them dry if you haven't shredded them. Shredding wet leaves is difficult. Next, shred your leaves either with a lawn mover or a leaf shredder (wood chopper). Leaves need to be chopped or shredded before being turned into mulch. Whole leaves won't break down enough over the winter.

Click to enlarge leaf piles

Once your leaves are shredded, add them to a compost bin such as the 3' by 3' bin shown below on the right. Add the leaves in 12 - 18 inch layers. On the top of each later, add a handful of urea, ammonium nitrate, bone meal, or a layer of grass clippings (any of these add the necessary nitrogen required to partially break down the leaves over the winter). Then mix the leaves and nitrogen additive with water. You want the leaves wet, but not saturated.

Adding urea to leaf piles

Repeat this layering until your bin is full. The goal is to wet your leaves while adding nitrogen.

I found that small bags of urea, available from garden centers, make an easy way to add the required amount of nitrogen. Grass clipping also work well, but in November I don't have enough to add.

Cover your mulch bins with a tarp or plastic over the winter.

It is a good practice to mix your leaf bins in March. However, this extra effort isn't imperative.

Leaves in pens
In the Spring, your mulch will be ready to add to your garden. You might see white areas on the leaves. This is a leaf fungus that adds to the mulch's nutrient value. Leaf mulch in the spring
Leaf much is very light and easy to apply. Finished mulch

After a year, the mulch will decompose and add its nutrients to your soil.



  • Walnut, eucalyptus and camphor laurel leaves contain substances that inhibit plant growth.



Mulch in the beds










Shredding leaves



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