Creating Your Own Mulch

Written by April Reinhardt (last updated February 1, 2023)

Laying new mulch on your garden and landscape is comparable to having your car repainted; it covers flaws, is aesthetically pleasing and, when done correctly and with an exclusive product, makes old plants look new again, and new plants look better.

You can choose from natural or synthetic mulch at a nursery or home improvement store, and pay a high price for either. Or, you can create your own natural or synthetic mulch and save quite a bit of money. There are several kinds of natural—or organic—mulches you can make using:

  • Sawdust, leaves, grass clippings, straw and hay, shells and hulls, and wood bark and chips
  • Shredded cardboard, magazines, and newspaper
  • Compost

You can also create your own synthetic mulch using:

  • Old plastic garbage bags
  • Used rubber tires
  • Worn out garden hose

Have you ever driven through a new housing development and seen newly formed lawns strewn with hay or straw? Landscapers use hay and straw as mulch to protect new grass seed and encourage its growth. You can use your old grass clippings, leaves, coffee bean hulls, peanut shells, and chopped tree trimmings as mulch in your garden. Instead of recycling your old newspapers, junk mail, and magazines, shred or cut them and mix them with old grass clippings or dead leaves to create your own mulch.

Create a compost pile in a corner of your backyard. Compost combines carbon, oxygen, air, and nitrogen and naturally creates healthy fertilizer for your plants. In addition to yard waste such as grass clippings, dead leaves, and tree trimmings, add kitchen scraps to your compost pile. If you've food left over on your dinner plates, scrape it all into a scrap bucket and then dump it onto your compost pile. Make certain that anything you add to your compost is something that will decompose. Do not add meat or cheese products since, when they decompose, they cause foul odors and attract varmints. Make sure you do not add anything to your compost pile that will breed weeds.

Go through your neighborhood any weekend in fall and collect bagged leaves and yard trimmings set out for the recycle program. Dump them into your compost pile, then shred the bags and save them for mulching your trees along with your recycled rubber.

Creating your own mulch will not only save you money, doing so will help the environment because you are recycling synthetic products and using them to promote organic plants.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...


Treating Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless Leg Syndrome worsens with age and inactivity. Therefore, sufferers of the syndrome should develop a realistic ...

Discover More

Cleaning a Corian Countertop

The specific color of your Corian countertop may require more frequent cleaning than other colors. Even with proper care, ...

Discover More

Mexican Casserole with Jalapeńo Cornbread

Serve jarred or canned tamales, topped with salsa, as a perfect side dish for this Mexican dinner menu. Or, if you need ...

Discover More
More Gardening Tips

What is Bedding?

For the experienced gardener or the beginner, garden bedding can take the hassle out of horticulture. Raised garden ...

Discover More

Garden Compost

Garden compost can be one of the greatest additions to anyone's garden. Whether you are interested in organic gardening ...

Discover More

Using Mulch to Stop Weeds

If you are looking for a rather inexpensive and natural method that you can use to help stop weeds, then you need to ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 0 + 4?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured gardening tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)