Tips for Gathering Garden Mulch

Get tips for gathering natural mulch for the garden without spending money.

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Try These Tips for Gathering Garden Mulch

My time off led me to some chore activity involving raised beds.

They were in dire need of mulch and it was hot all week so chipping branches wasn’t happening.

Buying mulch wasn’t happening either and I didn’t want to use hay like the last couple of seasons.

So, I decided to do something a little different this year.

Mulch started in the flower beds

Before I went on a mulch hunt I wanted to change the flower bed layout because additional planting space was necessary.

This was a relatively simple task by taking the stacked bed and placing it on the ground.

My plan is to incorporate a small flowering perennial bed with room for a few annuals.

This means less work in the long run so when the annuals expire I still have something growing that doesn’t require a lot of attention.

The original layout can be found here.

Mulch options are everywhere

Walking on the Project

Once the bed was moved, the soil and plants were settled the desire to figure out this mulch thing came next.

This involved walking on the property with Dixie seeking ideas for mulch.

I came across some clearing Robert tackled last winter and there sat several piles of leaves.

Walking for mulch ideas

Several Piles of Leaves

I remembered raking those piles of leaves and decided they would be the perfect solution to my mulch problem.

It had recently rained so they were also nice and damp which made scooping them up a breeze.

After a wheel barrow load was full it was off to the gardens.


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Cover the beds with a 2 inch layer of Mulch

 Mulch Layer Thickness

I’m often asked, “How thick should a layer of mulch be?”

First understand the point of mulch is to help maintain soil moisture and keep weeds to a minimum.

This means two inches is my preferred thickness for adding mulch.  If you go lighter many times it washes away and thicker layers can suffocate your plants.

If mulch is being applied to an area where there are no plans for growing then going thicker wouldn’t be an issue.

Used the Leaf mulch for all the beds

Applying Leaf Mulch

Applying the leaf mulch was a breeze.  Remember to wear gloves because you have no idea what these piles have come in contact with.

Then simply scoop up with a small bucket and place onto the top of each raised bed.

Spread out within a 2-inch layer thickness and you’re done. Once completed all of our raised beds looked so much better and it didn’t take but a couple hours.

These beds will now maintain moisture a lot better thanks to these leaves.  This also means less watering!

When I place these beds to rest in the fall those same set of leaf’s will be covered with dirt.  By applying the dirt decomposing begins over the winter leaving me with some sweet soil come spring.

This is what I call letting nature work for you.

Gathering garden mulch is just a smart way to use what you already have and make the garden look amazing at the same time.

Keep Raised Beds Moist with gathered mulch.



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  1. mickie mclaugthlin says:

    Carole… I am in the market for a chipper to chop up some small branches that have accumulated over the last two years. I remember a posting you had saying you had purchased one from Tractor Supply. Please give me the low down on the one you have.

    1. Carole says:

      I do love our chipper just to hot and humid here right now to use it. I’m posting the blog post link and then the link to Tractor Supply because this is the one we purchased. My only complaints would be the bag didn’t last very long – which was fine because we just blew the chips into a container and the top insert didn’t chips as small as the bottom insert. Was easy for me to handle and move which was huge. Hope that helps.

  2. Patti says:

    Such a good idea. You are so resourceful. The leaf mulch should compost nicely and feed your beds. We have a lot of oaks on our property. They don’t break down well but maybe if I crush them some they would make a good mulch resources. Thanks as always for the inspiration.

    1. Carole says:

      Yes crush them and they will break down better. I also used these leafs when I established my beds and they decomposed quickly. I really would have preferred to make mulch but it’s just to hot right now and so this tip was the perfect solution and I have say I’m really loving it so it may just be my newest favorite tip. Thanks for stopping by, loved your flower press project, I want to make one!

    2. Laura Daniel says:

      When -after-winter-cleanup-time comes, I take all the oak and maple leaves into one area of the yard and leave them there for a few weeks, then I have my husband mow them (which crushes them) then I pile them up and leave them to decompose for a few more weeks, then I add them to my beds, or leave them for wintering over and creating mulch in beds. I also, thanks to what I have learned from Carole’s blog, do a lot of direct composting in the fall (in winter, spring and summer, I compost into BIG trash cans which my husband has drilled holes into – layer of brown, layer of green, repeat…then I get rich beautiful black gold.

  3. daisy says:

    Great idea to reuse what nature has left for you. We have a large leaf pile on the property that I continuously add to the compost bin. Thankfully, we still have two small piles left of the free mulch we got from the tree trimming company that was working in our neighborhood.

    Hope you are staying cool!

    1. Carole says:

      Hot and muggy here so yes staying cool indoors. The leafs are already starting to fall here so we have this endless supply. This saved me hours and it’s working perfectly. Nature is the best!

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