You’ve got free mulch coming! Really. All those fallen leaves can be put to good use for a Fall mulch.
When you mulch in the Spring or Summer it is to help control weeds. There’s a different reason for Fall mulching. In the coming months temperatures will fluctuate tremendously. The ground will heave as it freezes and thaws forcing the roots of many plants up out of the soil and exposing the roots. As it does in the warmer months mulch will help maintain an even temperature to prevent heaving.
The best time to apply Fall mulch is when the ground is frozen or almost frozen. Some of the best things to use are:
- Shred up those fallen leaves to make a great organic mulch that will break down throughout the year and add nutrients. You’ll need about 6 inches of leaves for mulch.
- Don’t use whole leaves, they will pack down and smother everything underneath.
- If you still have plenty of leaves left over put them in your compost pile to use in your gardens or lawns when they turn to “black gold”.
- You can use less material when using wood shavings, about 3-4 inches is sufficient.
- Hardwood shavings are better than pine or spruce for better moisture retention.
- If you want something decorative, wood shavings would be a good choice.
- If you use straw, you need more than wood shavings or even leaves. 6-8 inches is needed.
- Before putting down straw you’ll need to add nitrogen to the area to balance Ph. Straw is high in carbon which removes nitrogen. Adding blood meal to the area is a good choice.
- Don’t apply before the ground is frozen or it will encourage mold and mildew.
- If you can’t find straw don’t use hay. It carries weed seeds that will sprout and cause more problems than you anticipated.
- Four to six inches of compost will protect your plants and provide valuable nutrients to the soil.
After applying the mulch make sure you pull it back to leave space between the trunk of the tree or plants. Mulching too close to the trunk may create the perfect conditions disease or pests.