Fall is the time to prepare your gardens for next year. By preparing you garden areas this year you can improve the soil and also take advantage of many of mother natures free mulching materials.
My favorite mulch in the fall are leaves, and they are plentiful, even in a city. I have many trees but still call the local town and have several piles of leaves dropped off so that I can let them set and turn into leaf mold (A name for decomposed leaves).
How to create mulch from leaves
The first step to take is to pile the leaves in one place using a rake, a wheel barrel or cloth. The leaves in the pile should be dry.
TIP: I use an old sheet to rake the leaves on. They will easy pull to the pile I have created. I also pile the leaves in a U shape I have created with straw bales.
Leaves will break down faster if they have been shredded, so I always make sure I include this step. I usually do this by mowing them in the yard then raking and moving the leaves to the pile. Often the leaves I have delivered are already shredded.
The next step is to add the shredded leaves to a compost bin. Layering the leaves will help them to compost faster. I use fresh leaf clipping and straw. New or old sawdust and manure will also work well. Again, I try to find free mulching materials.
Tip: Call your local township or park for free leaves. Sawdust can often be obtained from tree companies or construction companies.
I place the leaves in layers of 12-18 inches and add 6 to 8 inches of other composting material in between the layers of leaves. This will help the leaves to break down quicker.
Allow the leaf pile to sit over the winter months. The leaves should be ready for use in the spring. If you need the leaves to break down faster place them in black plastic bags. The bags will heat the leaves and help them to decompose quicker.
Many people use leaves that have sat for several years in their gardens. When they sit for several year they become leaf mold and are very rich in nutrients. This is one of my favorite mulches to use in the gardens and around trees.