Making Your Own Mulch

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated February 25, 2019)

Mulch can help to beautify your garden and protect the plants you are trying to grow. In addition, you can use it in many other areas of your yard, such as around trees and in flowerbeds. Mulch can be very expensive, however, if you purchase it from a nursery. There is an alternative—you can make your own mulch.

The fall is the best time to begin making your mulch. When making mulch the goal is to make enough to cover your garden in the spring. You don't want it to break down completely like you would if you were making a compost pile. You do, however, want it to break down slightly. The winter months will break your mulch down to where you can use it in the spring.

You need to determine just how much mulch you will need in the spring to cover your flowerbeds. For mulch to do any good it needs to be at least two inches deep. Think about what size of garden area will need to be covered. Now estimate how many square feet that would be. For example, let's say your garden is 8 feet wide and 16 feet long. This is 128 square feet (8 x 20). Multiply this by the number of inches of coverage you want (2) and you end up with the number 256.

Now, to figure out how deep your mulch pile needs to be, start by figuring out how many square feet you want for your pile. For example, if your mulch pile will be 3 feet wide and 3 feet long, that means it covers 9 square feet (3 x 3). Divide 256 (the number you derived earlier) by 9 (the square feet in your mulch pile) and you end up with just over 28. This is the number of inches deep you'll need your mulch pile to be.

The main ingredients of your mulch will be leaves, grass, and branches or limbs you prune from trees. When making your mulch pile there are some things's that you will need:

  • Mulching lawn mower
  • Chain saw
  • Wood chipper (rental)
  • Shovel
  • Tarp or plastic (enough to cover the leaves)

Now you need to pick a place to create your mulch pile. Set aside a place or section of your yard that you can devote for your mulch pile. It doesn't matter what is under the mulch pile. You do want to be careful, though, of not placing the pile over bulbs or shrubs that you want to keep. Anything that is under the mulch pile may die.

Begin by raking and piling your leaves. Don't let the leaves get wet if they haven't been shredded yet. It is quite difficult to shred wet leaves. You want to keep them dry until they are shredded.

With either a lawn mower or a wood chipper shred the leaves. Place the leaves in a pile where you have set aside for your mulch pile. As the leaves continue to fall keep shredding them and adding them to the pile.

Take any fallen limbs from your trees and cut them into pieces with your chain saw. Most people don't own a wood chipper; the best thing to do is to go to your local rental store and rent a wood chipper. They are fairly inexpensive to rent for an afternoon. Be sure to read all the directions on how to use the wood chipper, with an eye toward safety. Put all the tree limbs into the wood chipper and make wood mulch. The wood mulch can be kept in separate pile or it can be added to the leaves. You need to be careful when using a wood chipper; they can be dangerous.

When the leaves have reached about 14 inches deep, add a layer of grass clippings. The grass will add the nitrogen that is required to help break down the leaves over the winter. Add some water—just enough to get the leaves wet but not soaked. Mix the leaves and the grass also the wood mulch (if you are going to combine the wood mulch).

The mixture is ready to be covered with either the tarp or plastic sheeting. Leave the tarp on till spring. In late March or early April mix the leaf mulch again. It is now ready to use. This type of mulch is very light and easy to apply to the garden.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


Properly Using a Chainsaw

If you have a chainsaw, or are planning on getting one, then knowing how to properly use it is a vital necessity. ...

Discover More

Identifying and Dealing with Poison Ivy

Just about every person has had some experience with poison ivy in their lives. Usually, this experience was not a very ...

Discover More

Living without Credit Cards

If you are really interested in being as financially independent as possible, then you need to be as free of debt as ...

Discover More
More Gardening Tips

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

Creating Your Own Mulch

Mulch is comparable to the organic litter found on a forest floor, providing protection as well as fertilizer for your ...

Discover More

Choosing the Right Mulch

Although there are differing opinions as to whether natural mulch is better for plants than synthetic, most gardeners ...

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 two more than 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.)