How to Mulch Leaves: Cheap Mulch for Your Landscaping

Fallen leaves on the lawn of a homeFallen leaves are nature's mulch — just spread them at the base of your trees and shrubs. Image: Jean & Oliver/Flickr

Don’t toss out those fallen leaves you’ve spent weekends raking and blowing. Autumn leaves make low-cost mulch and fertilizer to protect and feed your landscaping all winter.

Now that your trees are bare, make the most of those fallen leaves. Here are a few ways to recycle leaves to protect and feed your landscaping all winter.


Mulching plants and shrubs is not just a spring chore. Your landscaping needs winter protection, too.

Autumn leaves are a low-cost mulch that insulate roots from frigid temperatures and hold moisture in the ground, which is vital to plant health in winter.

After you’ve removed dead blooms or rotting vegetables, rake or blow leaves into garden beds, and mound them around the base of shrubs and trees. To quicken decomposition and feed plants all winter, run leaves through a shredder or run over them with a mower.

Composting leaves

Rotting leaves and pine needles make great compost. Just throw them onto your compost pile, and douse them with water before you drain your outdoor spigot for the winter.

Or, bag up the leaves and throw them into a corner of your yard. If you have a mild winter, dark plastic will catch the rays and cook the leaves, speeding up decomposition. Come spring, dump the rotting leaves on your compost pile, and save the bags for next fall’s cleanup.

Leaves as fertilizer

Instead of raking or blowing leaves, run your mower over them a couple of times, and let them decompose and nourish your lawn.

What do you think of using leaves as mulch?