13/10/2014

Leaf mulch – how what and why

Fallen leaves are a great asset for any gardener to have. One benefit is that they can easily be turned into leaf mulch which can help keep your garden looking great all year round.

A simple definition of leaf mulch is; a layer of shredded leaves that is applied to the surface of the soil.

During the winter leaf mulch has a number of benefits for the garden. Not only does create a great weed barrier preventing weeds and other grasses from growing, it also acts as insulation for plants protecting them from the winter frost. Leaf mulch also helps protect earthworms which are extremely helpful in aerating your soil from being eaten by birds. 

The off shoot of leaf mulch is leaf mould. Leaf mulch and leaf mould are often confused by many, as leaf mulch eventually breaks down into leaf mould. Leaf mould is a brilliant, thick black, crumbly substance that acts as a soil conditioner that helps the soil structure and helps it retain moisture.

How to make leaf mulch

Making leaf mulch is ridiculously easy and there are a number of ways to do this. First of all you need to collect any fallen autumn leaves. This can be done by using a garden rake or by collecting them using a garden vacuum like the Flymo GardenVac.

If you use a garden rake it is best to use a rubber rake and gently rake them into a pile in the direction that the wind is blowing. Regularly using a metal tined rake on your lawn in the autumn will be too harsh on your lawn and you will run the risk of damaging it.

When collecting leaves you should avoid using any that are diseased, as you will only risk spreading the disease to your other plants if you use them as leaf mulch. You should also avoid using leaves that are mixed with litter, as the litter will struggle to break down and will add containments to your soil and leaf mulch.

Once you have collected all the leaves you need, you need to shred them. Most good garden vacuums will shred the leaves as they are collected making the whole process of making leaf mulch extraordinarily quick. If you have collected your leaves manually you can use a leaf or garden shredder. An alternative is to place all the leaves in a plastic rubbish bin, and using a grass trimmer a bit like a kitchen blender.

Adding leaf mulch to your flower beds

Once all your leaves have been shredded to a suitable size, place the leaves in your flower beds about 2 to 3 inches thick. Make sure that the leaf mulch does not smoother smaller plants and ensure the mulch does not touch the stems of any plants. Try and stay a couple of inches away from the stems. It is also best practice to avoid plants touching any decomposing material like leaf mulch.

Leaf blowers and garden vacuums

Leaf blowers and garden vacuums are readily available to purchase at most good retailers and garden centres. Flymo’s range of garden vacuums and leaf blowers make collecting and shredding leaves to make into leaf mulch quick and easy. Flymo has a range of leaf blowers to choose from and are also available to purchase online at the Official Flymo Webshop. An alternative to a garden vacuum is the Flymo Lawnrake Compact. This electric lawn rake collects leaves and places them into the collection box as you go. These are also available both online and at most good retailers.

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