How To Make Mulch | Guide To Adding a Protective & Decorative Element To Your Garden

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Making mulch is no magic! It’s the culmination of effort and the need to have a healthy and well-kept garden.

This article will teach you how to make your own mulch; the types of organic mulch; how to make much from wood chips; and other vital info you’ll need for a fresh garden.

How to make mulch

First, of, there are various kinds of mulch. But what is mulch made of? From wood chips to leaves and other organic mulch, you can make mulch with natural things in your yard. But that’s not all, you can make mulch from newspapers and plastics - these are synthetic mulch. We’ll give you a rundown of everything!

How to make mulch from wood chips

wood mulch is made by recycling trees

Wood mulch is usually made at lumber mills, where large trees are put through machines - tree shredder - that remove the bark before the wood is sawn into lumber. However, Most homeowners don’t have the necessary equipment or enough trees to make pure bark mulch.

There’s a great substitute, you can use a quality wood chipper shredder to make your own wood chip mulch.

Also, making wood chips for the yard is an excellent way to recycle trees, and debris in your yard.

Here’s how to make wood chips for yard mulch:

Firstly, you’ll need to rent or buy a wood chipper/shredder to make mulch from wood chips. If you want to grind branches up to 2”-3” in diameter opt for smaller portable models of chippers. For chip limbs up to 6” in diameter, rent a larger model that’s pulled on a trailer; you will require a vehicle with a trailer hitch to bring this sort of chipper home.

Note that your machine will come with specific instructions, but in general, the whole process is just about feeding wood and yard debris into the chipper and watching the wood chips pour out the other end. We reviewed the top rated chipper shredders here.

How to make mulch from wood chips

  1. Do well to get the best type of shredder to make your homemade mulch from chips
  2. When you get a suitable chipper or shredder, you can proceed to gather materials. Do well to remove leaves and twiggy elements to achieve a uniform wood chip mulch. It’s advisable to shred only wood branches.
  3. You can mix the wood chip in grass clippings and leaves for mulch that will decompose into nutritious compost.
  4. To achieve a more excellent mulch, double grind the wood. All you need to do is shovel the wood chips back into the chipper for a second grinding.
  5. You can enhance the smell of your wood chip mulch with cedar chips. Just buy a bag of cedar chip and mix them in the second grinding.
  6. The color of the wood chip mulch will start out like a light or bright color, but it will darken with time.
  7. When the texture is perfect for you, your wood chip mulch is ready.

Now, you might wonder “what to do with wood chips from chipper?” It’s pretty easy. Just spread the wood chip mulch anywhere on your property. It looks really great on flower beds, shrub borders, and garden pathways. Mulch from wood chips is excellent at home in a woodland or shade garden. However, they aren't great for vegetable and annual flower beds, this is because you'll be digging these beds every year and the chips will get in the way.

How to make garden mulch

how to make garden mulch

Mulching helps your trees, garden, and landscaping beds maintain their soil moisture, suppress weeds, and strengthen plants against harsh temperature. Mulching also makes your garden look fresh and well groomed.

Organic mulch also encourages beneficial garden organisms like earthworms, and it returns lost nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

You can make mulch from your yard waste rather than disposing. To make your own mulch in the spring or in the fall, do well to follow these steps to save money and maximize natural resources.

Things you’ll need:

  • Yard waste (fallen branches, leaves, grass clippings, and many more)
  • Lawnmower
  • Rake
  • Chipper
  • Shovel or pitchfork

STEP 1

The first step is to get a lawnmower for shredding fallen leaves, without the mower, leaves are bound to blow away. Now, rake the leaves into piles and run them over with the mower repeatedly. For added nutrients, mix the leaves with grass clippings before chopping with the mower. You can now stop shredding as the pieces are about the size of a dime. Now, your leaf mulch is now ready to use. You can proceed to the next step if you have wood material on hand.

STEP 2

put branches or pruned trees that fall down during a storm to valuable use

Put branches or pruned trees that fall down during a storm to valuable use. Do well to add it to your leaf mulch. Indeed, wood chips decompose slowly than leaves, so the wood mulch needs less care and will definitely bring out the aesthetic appeal of mulch in your yard.

Do well to follow the manufacturer’s instructions you got with your chipper on how to turn twigs and branches into small pieces.

Once you’ve chipped your stash of wood, add to leaf mulch and mix it together with a pitchfork or a shovel.

STEP 3

Now that you have a mulch to use, do well to take note of these two important tips. They’ll help you make decisions that’ll pamper and protect your garden or landscape.

First, weed your garden or the area that you want to mulch before you apply the mulch. It’s important to do so because these unwanted plants will also benefit from the nutrient-rich mulch.

Also, it’s best you mulch planting beds and trees at a depth of 3 to 4 inches. 
Do not pile mulch around the base of trees and the crowns of plants, it hinders oxygen flow and could potentially cause your plant to suffocate and rot.

But how thick should mulch be? To avoid suffocation of plants, note that a 1- to 2-inch layer of fine mulch should be sufficient for you.

How to make organic mulch

Home gardeners are turning to organic mulch; this is because using organic mulch imitates the nutrient cycle of plant decomposition that occurs in nature. Rather than wasting leave, you can repurpose them into mulch for your home garden or small farms.

Organic mulch is excellent. Great organic mulches reduce the growth of weed in your garden or farm, retain soil moisture and naturally helps to feed your plants. Basically, organic mulch is natural mulch; and there are different types of organic mulch. However, make sure any real or natural ingredients you are using for your mulch are free of contaminants.

Here, we’ll discuss how to make three organic mulch.

SHREDDED AUTUMN LEAVES

shredded autumn leaves make excellent mulch

Shredded leaves make excellent mulch. They may not be a gorgeous sight to the eyes, but the mulch is easy and quick to make.

Autumn leaves are handy, they are effective mulch for crops like garlic and other tender perennials. Mulch from leaves helps them through the harsh winds and temperatures of a cold winter.

You can shred leaves with a high-quality leaf blower on the vacuum setting or a mulching lawnmower. To use a mulching mower, attach a bag of leaves, run the mower over the leaves, and then take the bag over to the plants you’ll be mulching. The process is pretty easy.

Do well to wait until the ground is freezing and plants are going dormant before mulching with shredded leaves. This is because leave mulch retains moisture.

How to make mulch from leaves

These are easy steps you can follow.

  1. Collect leaves by raking up the ones that fall during autumn or leaves that you prune off plants. Do not use leaves from walnut and eucalyptus trees; these will prevent plants from growing.
  2. Gather leaves into a heap or pile. We’ll teach you how to make a mulch pile. Make use of a farm or garden rake or a leaf blower to rake them into a pile. You can also use a wheelbarrow to collect leaves. It’s best you pile the leaves on a flat area to avoid damaging your lawn mower blades.
  3. Proceed to shred the leaves with a lawnmower. Now the leaves are piled together in a thin layer, put on your lawn mower and mow over the pile. Keep shredding the leaves until the pieces are tiny.
  4. Your mulch is now ready for use. You can store leftovers in a ventilated barrel or container, a bag with air holes, or just spread the mulch out on a tarp and covered from the elements. However, the longer the mulch is stored, the more nutrients it will lose. Also, mulch that is kept in areas with little or no ventilation gradually ferment and release high pH toxins, which are deadly to plants.

HOMEMADE COMPOST

homemade composts have rich dark color and provide excellent backdrop for plants

This is also a kind of organic mulch that’s useful in gardens and landscapes. Homemade composts have a rich dark color, and provides an excellent backdrop for plants. Compost mulching gives your garden uniformity, and your garden will look well-kept.

Homemade compost is made from decomposed leaves and other plant matter like grass clippings, kitchen scraps, and bits of plants from the yard or garden.

The components of homemade compost make it excellent plant food. Finished compost will have a reasonably uniform color and its texture will give away none of its ingredients. You can re-apply homemade compost yearly to provide nutrients to the soil.

Making homemade compost is a great way to reduce household waste while also feeding your garden with abundant nutrients. Plants in your household and yard can be put to good use as mulch and plant food once composted. It’s good to always see decaying plant matter as a valuable resource rather than an irritating bit of trash.

COMPOSTED MIXED YARD WASTE

Composted mixed yard waste is similar to homemade compost; it can be used as a mulch for your garden. Mixed yard waste compost is made in many municipalities, and it’s the result of municipal waste collection programs.

The components of the composted mixed yard waste are branches, sticks, leaves, and other yard trimmings that are too big to be composted in homes or residential areas. These huge yard wastes are chipped and composted in large batches to create an excellent mulch. Due to the variety in ingredients, mixed composted yard waste is preferable to wood chip mulch.

composted mixed yard waste

Many municipalities now offer this type of yard waste composting program in which massive yard waste is collected, composted, and redistributed to citizens.

In our area, both collection of material and the finished compost itself are included with our existing waste collection program and are free of charge. You take home as much finished compost as you like.

Mixed yard waste compost is an excellent organic mulch; this is because it contains material from so many different sources. This benefit comes with the concern that this material may contain sprays or other contaminants.

Fortunately, many municipalities offer pollutant (and nutrient) test results from their compost that can be accessed on request before picking up the compost. This presentation from Ohio State University gives an excellent overview of the benefits of composted yard waste mulch, including photos and mulching prescriptions.

How to make a mulch bed

You might be wondering how to make mulch beds from an area that has either grass or dirt foundation. It’s pretty easy to make a mulch bed for a small piece of land. Follow these steps:

1. Use a shovel to turn the soil. Then, dig about 4-6 inches and flip the earth with grass down; this action will kill most of the green.

2. Plant the shrubs or flower you want.

3. Water the plant.

4. Fix some kind of border around the area.

5. Add 4-6" of mulch. This will kill any left grass.