Making Fresh Garden Mulch

How to make fresh mulch from tree limbs for the garden.

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The Making of Mulch

For weeks Robert has been busy cutting down trees, so many that I started thinking about hiding his chain saw.  But if I did that, he’d just go buy another one.

Then shortly after he removed these trees the county filed a burn ban.  It’s odd to have a burn ban this time of year but with rainfall only occurring about every two or three weeks I guess it makes sense.

Since then these piles have been sitting still making this place appear like a war zone.

Let’s not forget that sitting burn piles are like a hotel for rodents so we knew a natural solution was necessary. We decided to go for a drive and found ourselves at Tractor Supply purchasing a new shredder to make mulch.

The Shredder is Easy to use

The Shredder from Tractor Supply

When we lived on the farm I dreamed one day of having a shredder to make my own mulch, that day finally arrived and all this rubble is in the process of being turned into mulch.  We basically took a lemon of a situation and made lemonade.

After purchasing this machine at Tractor Supply, we hurried home and put it to work. Progress surfaced and after a couple hours we had bags of mulch for the garden.

Shredder likes and dislikes

  • Make in the USA – Score!
  • Easy to move and start – just slowly pull continuously and it cranks right up.
  • Two shredder inserts – bottom chops better than top insert.
  • The catch bag is great but it has a plastic zipper – the zipper broke after three loads.
  • Overall – we love it and it gets the job done.

Beautiful Mulch

Beautiful Chopped Mulch

This is the pretties mulch I’ve ever used and found it to be useful beyond the garden. The following list are just a few ways to incorporate natural mulch in your environment.

  • Raised beds to manage soil temperature and moisture
  • Keeps weeds at a distance
  • Great for walk paths
  • Raised bed Prep mixture – perfect for clay soil
  • Playground covering and the list goes on….

We’re chopping fresh cedar, this includes limbs and greens in addition to other tree debris.  It’s smells so good; I’m in mulch heaven.

No more using hay in the garden and no more purchasing bags or yards of mulch from retailers. Woo Hoo!


Fresh Mulch for Raised Beds



We filled all the existing raised beds, front entry bed and covered the ground around the garden to the creek bridge. It looks so neat and we still have containers full and more to chop.

So, I said to Robert, lets bag it up, cut the large trunks for fire wood and move it on down the road.

Gotta love it when a burn ban forces you to think outside the box.

Who knows maybe one-day we’ll have our own brand of garden mulch, all natural straight from the land.  I’ll keep dreaming because when we stop dreaming we stop living…



The Making of Mulch


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  1. mickie mclaughlin says:

    Hello Carole….it’s been a while since I logged on…this article came at a good time. I have a huge pile of smallish limbs that fell during rain/wind storms over the last year and have been “saving” them to mulch. Had thought of renting a mulcher for this. In checking the rental fees around here, they are running around 300.00 to rent for one day, so have decided to look into purchasing one. Your article convinced me that that is the way to go.

    One concern though has been the number of little birds that have taken up residence in the pile of limbs. I mean a whole flock of them. Love that they have a place to get out of the weather, but…….. Oh my, the dilemma . This might have to wait til spring as we’ve already had two small snow storms.

    Looking forward to seeing photos of your Christmas decorations. BLESSINGS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your family.

    1. Carole says:

      I love this machine and you can’t believe how much stuff we’ve mulched since I wrote this. Just yesterday we started working on a new pile. I may do a follow up post in January and go into further detail, I will never buy mulch again. This shredder was 500 and pretty easy to push, has large hard wheels and I really liked that because they never deflate. It’s neat how birds take residence so quickly, since we’ve been clearing more and more visit our place, feels like a bird sanctuary. Oh and we have an owl that sits nearby at night, sounds so neat. Anyways I dedicated most of my Christmas decorating to the birds this year, it’s been fun. So good to hear from you and hope your Christmas is wonderful… Our son is coming home so we’re excited to see him.

  2. What brand is the shredder, Carole? We had one years ago (Troybilt, I think) but it was sooo loud. I hated to be around it while it was running.

    You’re right though. They make great mulch. I’m tempted to get another one if I could find one with a super duty muffler. 🙂

    1. Carole says:

      Hello Maria – Well it is a little loud, it’s gas operated. You may be able to find an electric one that would probably be quieter but I have to say I’m loving it. Our shredder is a Dirty Hand Tools, has a Kohler Engine.

  3. daisy says:

    Love this homesteading solution! We could use a chipper as well, and I was hoping that with all the pine trees around here, we could stop buying pine straw mulch for the beds. I think we need to plant a few more just for that purpose. I’ll bet your cedar shavings smell divine!

    1. Carole says:

      It is awesome and that chipper was 500 so we thought pretty affordable, I like that it had two slots to add stuff branches. We’re mulching hack berry branches and everything else too so yes plant so you always have something to trim. My word you could do this with vines too.

  4. George Lloyd says:

    We purchased a Cub Cadet last year and have used it so much and enjoyed the fact that it has provided us so much we named our chipper, “Chip”. Yes, I know not very original, but it is hilarious how we talk about Chip behind his back and give him encouragement on those days when it looks like the pile of cut limbs will never shrink.
    Have a nice day Carole and enjoy your new toy.

    1. Carole says:

      Hey George – love that you named your Chipper… I’ll have to think on that. I’ just dumping it all into a huge pile right now and plan to start bagging it up soon. SO many piles but I tell you I’m loving this thing. Have a Great Christmas!

  5. jaywalk says:

    so glad you found the shredder trick … we’ve been doing it for many years … adding a new layer on each year to the walking paths & around the shrubs, flower gardens. i’ve not used it in the food gardens since most of it is cedar. ahhh you’re right the heavenly smell & actually i greatly enjoy this task every year. you go girl DREAM BIG xoxo j!

    1. Carole says:

      Yes I can see where making mulch is going to be fun for years to come. Thanks for the encouragement – Dreams are Good!

  6. Courtney says:

    What a great idea Carole, and I love your flexibility when initial plans to burn didn’t work out. And the mulch looks beautiful! Nice uniform pieces. Great job!

    1. Carole says:

      Thanks Courtney – I’m loving it and it does smell wonderful, just knowing for sure it’s all natural is fantastic.

  7. Karen says:

    This is so neat! I think it would be wonderful to be able to produce your own mulch and I have a hunch this machine is going to serve you well for years to come.

    1. Carole says:

      I agree – it’s been a great addition and hope to get back out there this week to continue shredding.

  8. Cheryl says:

    “When we stop dreaming, we stop living.” LOVE those words! Congratulations on your new shredder! It looks like you are enjoying it and having fun, and that is so wonderful! Merry Christmas to you and your husband!!

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you Cheryl, those words were a little gift from God and made me smile so I had to include. This shredder is sweet and I’m picking up some bags today and placing it on craigslist. To good not to pass on.

  9. Patti says:

    Hi Carole,

    I love your positive attitude and the way you use what you have. Always so inspiring. I pay good money for a couple of truckloads of local mulch every year so I can appreciate being able to make your own.

    1. Carole says:

      Thank you – I was adding up in my head all the money I’ve spend on mulch and hay for the garden over the years and mentioned to Robert I could have purchased a couple of these shredders. Course you need tree rubble to shred to make it all work. So I guess our next property will need lots of trees if I plan to continue making my own mulch. Having those cedar greens mixed in though…. it’s so pretty!

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