Making Leaf Mulch

The leaves are now falling from the great oak tree in the backyard. The oak leaves are thick, and if left to lie will form a thick wet mat. They don’t break down very easily in their whole form. Fortunately, the leaves can be shredded and turned into leaf mulch or leaf mold, a much touted boon for the garden. Gone are the days of bagging your leaves and putting them out on the curb!

First step is raking the leaves up: a daunting task. Fortunately, the weather was perfect last weekend. Sunny and crisp! I also had some help from George, who picked up sticks…

…and chased his ball.

Good work, George.

Next, Dad came through with the lawnmower. The lawnmower chopped up the leaves and collected them in its bag.

Here’s what the leaves looked like after one pass with the lawnmower:

Could be better, could be worse…. there are special machines you can buy that are specifically designed to mulch leaves. Additionally, there are “mulching” blades you can get for your lawnmower which should do a better job of it. I have no idea how well these work. Our neighbor is going to borrow a leaf mulching machine, but he’s not very optimistic that it will do any better of a job.

Once we had a pile of mulched leaves, Dad ran over through the pile again several times with the lawnmower to create a finer mulch.

We’ll let this pile break down over the winter. It will (hopefully) turn into nutrient-rich “leaf mold” that we can add to garden beds in the spring.

We also spread some as mulch over one of the empty garden beds. A thick layer of leaf mulch should suppress weeds and will eventually break down into the soil.

There are still so many leaves left on the tree…

…we’ll be raking and mulching for many weekends to come, but it’s all for the good of the garden!

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