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My Neighbors Must Think I’m Crazy

October 25th, 2010

Why? Because I raked all the leaves from the driveway onto the front lawn and spread them out in an even layer.

Last week I started making mulch for my flower beds. I collect the leaves when they fall and chop them up with my mower. I then mix them with grass clippings and use this mix as mulch on my gardens.

Leaves make the best all natural mulch for flowerbeds and your edible garden beds. The worms love it and it does a wonderful job of keeping weeds at bay and it does wonders to help retain moisture. Leaves also help improve the soil over the long term as the worms turn them into the soil. The best part is that they’re FREE! I’m lucky that our gardens are surrounded by giant trees so I have leaves in abundance, but we also collect leaves from our neighborhood leaf drop off center as I don’t think you can ever have too many!

Do you make use of the leaves in your garden? Do you have any great free things that you use in the garden?

24 Comments to “My Neighbors Must Think I’m Crazy”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: My Neighbors Must Think I’m Crazy #makeyourown #falledleaves #mulch […]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Make your own mulch from leaves | Chiot’s Run —'s comment

  2. Beegirl on October 25, 2010 at 6:20 am

    Two 3-4 foot piles of maple leaves go over the carrot bed to insulate them over the winter. We follow row under the snow to dig up fresh crisp carrots all winter long. Mulched leaves and grass from the mover go into the compost spinner all year with kitchen scraps and chicken plops for fantastic compost all year long!!

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  3. Ryan on October 25, 2010 at 6:25 am

    That is brilliant. I was trying to think of a way to collect the leaves and do the same thing without the help of shredder/chipper.
    Thanks for sharing – I’m going to do the same thing!

    Reply to Ryan's comment

  4. David Bentz on October 25, 2010 at 7:02 am

    At year’s end, I always let the grass grow long as the leaves fall on the ground. After all leaves have fallen, I run the lawn mower over the yard as you do. The end result is a nice mixture of leave mulch and grass clippings for my give raised garden beds. The piles in the beds are about three foot deep but by spring they are about 4 inches deep. Four to five inches of compost go on top of they beds and they are ready to plant. After planting a two inch layer of straw cover up the beds to keep moisture in and weeds out.

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  5. Stephanie Suesan Smith on October 25, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Texas has a big “Don’t Bag It” campaign designed to keep leaves and grass clippings out of the landfill. It suggests doing exactly what you describe. I do not know how successful it is, as I still see bags of leaves and stuff on curbs, but at least we try. I live on 14 acres and pretty much practice benign neglect as far as most of it goes. I do not bag anything, though, and have been known to snag bags of leaves to add to the compost pile if I see them. Good for you for making your own mulch.

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  6. kristin @ going country on October 25, 2010 at 8:32 am

    The walnut trees ruin most of our leaf supply, but we do put some of the non-walnut stuff in the compost.

    Our best free resource is the bamboo. It’s great for trellising, even if it is scarily invasive and spreading.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  7. Mary W on October 25, 2010 at 8:59 am

    We have a leaf vacuum that chops up the leaves very nicely. After chopping we either replace them, mulch beds where leaves don’t fall, or pile them where we want new beds. Even then, we need to haul some away. This year it’s going to our community plot, but previously we’d take it to our county’s huge composting facility–no yard waste ends up the the landfill.

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  8. Kelly on October 25, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Do you *have* to chop them up? We use a human-powered push mower and it won’t do leaves.

    Reply to Kelly's comment

    • Susy on October 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm

      Nope you don’t have to chop them, I find that they break down quicker and have less risk of blowing around than if they’re not chopped. Plus they don’t mat down as much when they’re chopped.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. Debbie on October 25, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Lately, many Facebook friends have been complaining about raking leaves and having to fill leaf bags. I gently encourage them to use them as mulch and I think they think I’m a little nuts too – although some have thought the idea brilliant. :) We use all our leaves as mulch. We haven’t cut our grass in months and so we do what you do – cut the grass and leaves together and then rake it into our garden beds. I love the simplicity of this act and using things found in nature to better our clay soil. It’s the perfect extension of gardening; everthing from the earth -back to the earth. -Debbie

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  10. karl on October 25, 2010 at 9:16 am

    we use leaves extensively, mulch, deep bedding for the chickens, winter cover for garden beds…

    we have tons of trees just not enough time to collect all the leaves that i can use.

    I rake them onto a big tarp and drag them to their processing area in the yard. then they get put to work.

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  11. tj on October 25, 2010 at 9:35 am

    …I love this and have used it in the past but is there a way to get the leaves to stay where you put them? We loaded up our large pumpkin patch last year with chopped up leaves and the following week wind came thru and blew them into the woods! Gah! :o\

    …Blessings… :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

    • Susy on October 25, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      I find that the grass clippings help as does the chopping. I also try to water them after mulching with them as this helps kind of bond them together and helps them stay in place a little more.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. misti on October 25, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Raking leaves and using a leaf blower are some of my pet peeves! Good for you to set and example!

    Reply to misti's comment

  13. Joshua on October 25, 2010 at 11:24 am

    I swear to god yesterday I saw a person standing on his 2nd story roof with a leaf blower. I about laughed my head off.

    Reply to Joshua's comment

  14. Julie on October 25, 2010 at 11:42 am

    My husband chops up the leaves with the mower before putting them in the compost pile. Otherwise it takes over a year for them to break down. I like your idea though and may have him put some chopped up leaves directly on the flower beds.

    Reply to Julie's comment

  15. Amy on October 25, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Free garden delicacies…….Wood ash from our wood stove……chicken and rabbit poo mixed with straw……grass clippings…..leaves…..compost….I’m thinking that is about all…..I have never thought to combine the leaves and last of the year grass mowing…..splendid idea!

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  16. David on October 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    We fill 32 gal trash bags with leaves and stack them against the north side of our house to help insulate against that cold north wind. In the spring after the vegetables are planted we use those same leaves as mulch to keep the weeds down between the rows and around the vine crops. In the fall those leaves are handled yet again when they are added to the compost pile and new leaves are bagged starting the process all over again.

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  17. amy manning on October 25, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve used leaves before, but in my climate it made the slugs populate out of control. Well, even more out of control that is!

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  18. Kim on October 25, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    With 9 acres of Oklahoma plains and no trees, I have only seen one fall leaf on our property. Then one of the horses walked right over and ate it!

    Reply to Kim's comment

    • Susy on October 26, 2010 at 7:46 am

      Too funny!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  19. annie on October 25, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    We definitely use leaves on the garden. We’re always wandering around the neighborhood looking for leaves. We love grass clippings as well and the rice plant we live near periodically has humongous piles of rice chaff, which we haul off for the beds. It makes a long lasting mulch and encourages the growth of slime molds which look super cool.

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  20. Mary W on October 27, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    Free coffee grounds from Starbucks or local coffee shop make a great addition to your compost pile or as mulch in raised beds. Worms love it in either place.

    In compost I include the coffee filters. When using as mulch, I pull ’em out.

    Reply to Mary W's comment

  21. […] the lookout for bags of leaves to throw in the car and bring home. As you remember, I use them to make mulch for the gardens. I also wrap my hydrangeas and fill them with leaves to protect them from the harsh […]

    Reply to One Gardener’s Trash is Another’s Compost | Chiot’s Run's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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