Fall is one of my favorite seasons because it means that the leaves are falling and shedding their leaves, which has a peaceful vibe! Sure, it also means more raking and cleaning up, but who doesn’t like all the leaves around, which you can put to great use? While some see a mess, we see potential to these falling leaves, with various opportunities to put these leaves to good use.
You’ve probably heard of using them as mulch by many gardeners, even! But leaves as mulch: Good or bad?
Check out why you should consider using leaves as mulch!
Leaves as Mulch: Good or Bad?
The short answer is YES! Using leaves in mulch is good! Not only that, but it’s a natural and environment-friendly choice compared to using chemical fertilizers.
There are many benefits when you use leaves as mulch in flower beds and vegetable gardens, such as:
- It creates a useful barrier against weeds, keeping them at bay.
- Leaf mold helps protect plants by maintaining proper soil temperatures, as they have insulating properties. This results in warmer soil during the winter and cooler soil come summertime.
- There won’t be a need to fertilize your garden a lot, as soil fertility improves considerably when the leaves start decomposing.
- Leaves can help retain soil moisture, so less irrigation is required. You save on time and money when using both water and fertilizer!
- Leaves are nutritious food for earthworms, which are helpful insects for soil and many plants.
With all these benefits in mind, there are a few things you need to know about using leaves as mulch, such as:
1. Are They Beneficial For Gardens?
Yes, leaves are beneficial for gardens, but what about fallen leaves? Sadly, we can’t just dump leaves all over flower beds, which may end up causing more harm than good advantages. It’s recommended to put shredded leaves in your garden instead of whole leaves.
2. Can You Use Whole Leaves?
What if you don’t have time to shred leaves?
It’s possible to use whole leaves as mulch, but only if you use a thin layer of it. If not, then air and rain can struggle to get through the layer of leaves, which can end up keeping your plants away from the light, water, and air it needs to grow well. This is why shredded leaves are a better choice.
There are different ways to shred leaves, such as using a string trimmer or lawnmower. Be sure that the leaves are dry when doing this to prevent them from clinging onto your blades.
3. Leaf Mulch vs Wood Mulch
One benefit of using leaves as mulch is that it is lightweight, so your soil and plants still receive the proper nutrition and requirements. However, the lighter weight can bring drawbacks. For instance, during windy conditions, the leaves may blow away if you don’t position them correctly.
This is compared to wood mulch, which won’t fly away as easily. However, it can cause damage to small plants due to its density. Furthermore, wood mulch won’t be as enticing to earthworms compared to leaf mulch.
One may contest that wood mulch can last longer, but we would usually use leaves during the colder months for insulation, keeping the plants safe from the winds and cold temperatures, so it doesn’t matter how long mulch lasts!
4. Compost vs Leaf Mulch
Lead mold and compost help with our gardens in their own ways. Compost is dug inside flower beds or can be used directly in plants, accelerating the growth of new seeds. Leaf mulch would simply sit on top of the soil, creating a layer of protection to retain moisture while reducing risks of weed germination.
Both are different things and can’t be compared. It’s recommended to use both leaf mulch and compost, though this depends on what your plants need.
You can create your own leaf compost by burying leaves in your garden, digging a hole, and burying the compost material, leaving it be. Within half a year or so, the leaves will decompose.
Wrapping It Up
Mulch is great to conserve soil moisture, as well as improve the health and fertility of the surface it stays on. If you plan to use leaves as mulch, then you’ll be able to reap the many benefits it has to offer, from its all-natural and chemical-free materials down to improved soil fertility. Plus, it’s free to use and can be found anywhere, especially during the fall season where falling leaves are abundant!
I hope that this article answers your question, ‘leaves as mulch: good or bad?’ Now that you know the answer, consider using leaves to your mulch for future plants now!