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What is mulch? Making leaf mould at home

Read on to discover our guide for how to make mulch with our super simple steps.

Updated

making leaf mould with autumn leaves

Key steps

  • Mulch takes around 1-2 years to be ready for use in the garden
  • Use leaves like hornbeam or oaks.
  • If you have space, create a leaf bin with stakes and chicken wire.
  • Alternatively, pierce holes in bin bags.
  • Fill with leaves.
  • Add a little water to make them damp.
  • Leave for decomposition to work its magic!

Leaf mulch is a great, nutrient-packed addition to garden compost – and making it at home is a productive way to tidy up your garden and minimise waste. Plus, it's a great natural alternative to using chemical fertilisers. Now, as our gardens have filled up with falling leaves, our guide on how to make mulch will help you harness their natural goodness. Then, you can try your hand at more garden projects, like growing your own vegetables!

While hornbeam, oak and beech leaves are great for mulch, avoid conifer or evergreen leaves as these take up to 3 years to decompose! Add these to your compost instead.

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What is mulch? A simple explanation

Mulch is a product used to cover bare soil or compost which can add a fertilising element to your flowerbeds. So, what is mulch made of? There are all sort of potential ingredients, including leaves, grass clippings, hay, kitchen scraps and shredded bark.

How to make leaf mould

  1. While you can use most leaves, some with decompose quicker than others. These include hornbeam, oak and beech leaves.
  2. The easiest containers for making leaf mould are a couple of black bin liners:
    • Puncture a few holes in the sides and bottom of your bin liners.
    • Rake up your leaves, and pop them into the bags.
    • Add a little water to make the leave damp.
    • Find somewhere inconspicuous to store these bags, as they can look a little unsightly stored in your garden.
  3. Gardens surrounded by trees are sometimes over-loaded with falling leaves. Set yourself up with a dedicated leaf bin to make use of all this mulch fodder:
    • Place four stakes into the ground, forming the four corners of a square. A metre-squared is usually big enough.
    • Wind chicken wire around the stakes to create a frame. Don’t forget to fold in sharp edges to prevent any cuts and scrapes when you add leaves.
    • Now, all you need to do is pile your leaves inside!
  4. Your mulch will usually be ready to use within 1-2 years.
  5. Not sure when to mulch? Avoiding add mulch to your soil when it’s cold or dried out: late spring and autumn are the safest bets.
  6. Mulch isn’t the only product which will help to make your garden grow better. Why not check out our advice for making compost at home?

Knowing how to make mulch will help you make the most out of the fallen autumn leaves in your garden. Making leaf mould is a time investment, but you’ll see the payoff in a blooming (and much tidier) garden!

Originally published