Make Your Own Mulch
Making your own mulch is a great way to save money and get control over the materials you are providing for your plants. Before heading out to the store or nursery to buy materials, take an inventory of what you already have in your yard. Wood chips, straw, hay, grass clippings, pine needles, newspaper, and leaves are all great resources for making your own mulch. Organic materials are best used when making mulch for edible plants.
The type of mulch should depend on the season. Grass clippings, small branches and compost can be used in the summer, while more durable materials like pine needles, bark and straw are best used in the winter. A combination of mulch ingredients help to provide varying nutrients for the plants; use what you have on hand to maintain control over the ingredients.
To get started, you should clear the space of any old mulch and weeds. This is important, as mulch can encourage further weed growth if left unchecked. The ideal layer of mulch should be about two inches thick; leave a small void between the mulch and the base of the plants to give them enough space to breathe.
You can make compost too, which will help reduce home and lawn waste. Collect organic materials such as grass clippings, paper bags, wood ash and kitchen scraps, including fruit and vegetable peels and skins. If you have a wood chipper, add the small branches and hay into the mix as well. Your compost pile should be kept moist in direct sunlight to speed up the breakdown of materials. Stir the pile or spin it occasionally with a pitchfork to encourage degradation. If you use a commercially bought composter, consult the instructions to be sure you are using the right amount of materials and in the right way.
Leaves can be used as mulch too! Simply run them over with a lawnmower or use a mulching bag if your mower has that option. This will reduce the size of the leaves and make them easier to spread around your plants and trees with a rake or your hands.
Making your own mulch is simple and economical. It also helps to maintain a circular economy: the materials you use come from the grass and trees already in your yard, so you’re helping your plants do what they do naturally. Spend some time taking inventory of your yard, grabbing the necessary supplies, and making the mulch you need to nourish your plants.