All Things Gardening forum: How to use shredded leaves as a mulch?

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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
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Frillylily
Apr 4, 2015 5:31 PM CST
I'd like to use shredded leaves on my flower/veggie beds. Can I just put them on? Do I have to mix them with anything? If I pile them up will they compost or do I have to add grass clippings to them also?
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Apr 4, 2015 6:39 PM CST
What type of leaves are they? I ask that because with some leaves you also get thousands of little seeds like ash tree leaves. So if they are old dry leaves and have been shredded and aren't full of seeds you don't have to add anything. If you add fresh grass clippings they could heat up like compost and you don't want that. Old dried grass clippings are fine with leaves. I use a ton of leaves and over the period of a year an inch or two of shredded leaves will decompose and be eaten by worms and other things, so that by next year it will be time to add more.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Apr 4, 2015 7:25 PM CST
well I don't have any leaves presently, but I was thinking since people are cleaning up for the spring, maybe I could post a want at on craigs list for shredded leaves. I did not think about the seed thing. I do know maples around here seed like crazy and I probably don't want those in my beds. I think red buds do also. Maybe I should advertise for oak leaves? Thing is alot of people just clean up their yards and may not even know what they have.

Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Apr 4, 2015 9:02 PM CST
You're right, most people would have no idea what type leaves they had.
Name: Tom Cagle
SE-OH (Zone 6a)
Old, fat, and gardening in OH
Coppice
Apr 5, 2015 5:04 PM CST
yes just lay leaves on. They can cold compost in place.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Apr 5, 2015 5:32 PM CST
yes! Thank you! I'm gonna try this!
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Apr 7, 2015 5:02 PM CST

Plants Admin

I just wish I had more leaves to use as mulch.
Evan

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pitimpinai
Apr 18, 2015 12:27 PM CST
Evan,
I always grab my neighbors' leaf bags whenever they are set out in the alley by their garbage cans. Last fall I had no time to shred them so 20+ leaf bags have been sitting in my backyard waiting to be shredded. Sighing! Glare
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
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Moonhowl
Apr 18, 2015 12:37 PM CST
Shredding makes them breakdown faster, but is not really necessary if you are mulching with them.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
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drdawg
Apr 18, 2015 2:50 PM CST
I agree
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Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Apr 18, 2015 3:41 PM CST
But they look so much more attractive when shredded!
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
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Moonhowl
Apr 18, 2015 6:23 PM CST
True, but you can use both...just top dress with the shredded leaves. Stretches the life of your mulch and still looks nice.
Name: wayne
memphis (Zone 7b)
Keeper of Poultry Region: Tennessee
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wayne
Apr 18, 2015 7:58 PM CST
Moonhowl said:True, but you can use both...just top dress with the shredded leaves. Stretches the life of your mulch and still looks nice.


I think this is the way to go. In my experience, the shredded leaves don't hold moisture as well and therefore don't provide worms with the best conditions to thrive. I don't know if I'm drawing a solid conclusion there or not, but I do know that keeping my leaves and mulching with them has transformed my soil in a little less than four years. Initially I would find one worm in maybe every third shovel of dirt. Now I find several each time I turn the dirt over.

Check out this big dude I found last weekend. I get excited every time I find a worm this size. For reference my ugly shoe there is a size 13.


Thumb of 2015-04-19/wayne/0014d8

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Apr 18, 2015 8:45 PM CST
LOL, that is definitely a "keeper" worm, Wayne!

I totally agree -- over the years we've added a LOT of grass clippings and leaves to the garden -- I use it to mulch during the gardening season, and then till it in, usually once late in the fall and then again early in the spring -- although last year the ground was just too wet and I never did get it tilled, and everything just kind of disappeared anyway. Lots and lots of worms now, where we originally had basically none; I love seeing those guys up on top of the ground on a wet early morning -- we have some really huge nightcrawlers, I could probably sell them to the local fishermen but would rather leave them to work up the garden for me! Smiling
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Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
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Moonhowl
Apr 19, 2015 10:05 AM CST
Nice healthy worm, Wayne. Around here we know the worm population is good when we start seeing the Worm Snake in larger numbers.

http://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/caramo.htm

I agree Sandy...let the fishermen grow their own worms Thumbs up
Name: wayne
memphis (Zone 7b)
Keeper of Poultry Region: Tennessee
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wayne
Apr 19, 2015 12:48 PM CST
Moonhowl said:Nice healthy worm, Wayne. Around here we know the worm population is good when we start seeing the Worm Snake in larger numbers.

http://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/caramo.htm

I agree Sandy...let the fishermen grow their own worms Thumbs up


Wow Jean I didn't even know the worm snake existed! I've been under the assumption I was seeing the eastern brown snake but this makes more sense. Thank you :)

http://srelherp.uga.edu/snakes/stodek.htm
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Moonhowl
Apr 19, 2015 4:03 PM CST
You are most welcome, Wayne. It is always enjoyable to share something new.

I learned about the Worm Snake in a moment of sheer panic...my oldest son, at the time 8 y/o, came strolling into the kitchen saying "Mom, look at this cute little snake I found." Into a jar and off to LSU's Herpetology Dept. They only grow about a foot long at maturity, and the one in the jar was maybe 7 or 8 inches long. I just knew it was going to be a Child-eating monster.... Whistling That was over 30 years ago and he is still very much into creepy-crawlies but much wiser about handling them. Thumbs up
Name: wayne
memphis (Zone 7b)
Keeper of Poultry Region: Tennessee
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wayne
Apr 19, 2015 6:32 PM CST
My first worm snake encounter happened on my front porch. I was standing on the ground working with some planters on the porch...say chest high. I moved a planter and there was this worm snake just staring at me. I mean I didn't freak out but I didn't know what to think of this miniature beast in my face. At first I just thought it was an abnormally feisty worm, but it was obviously a snake. It took nearly 12 months to spot another one, but I'm just glad to know they are out there. I just didn't know why I was glad until now :)
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Apr 19, 2015 6:35 PM CST
I've never heard of a "worm snake," either -- but maybe that's because we don't seem to have them here, according to the map. We do have some little snakes that look very similar from the top, but their belly is orange -- not sure what the official name is, but we call them "copper bellies" up here. Really cute little guys!! (okay, I really do like snakes -- had a garter snake frequenting my garden a couple of years ago that I named "Slitherin'" (from Harry Potter) Whistling (but, then again, it's probably easier to like snakes when you live where there are no poisonous ones...)
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
Apr 19, 2015 6:42 PM CST
Moonhowl said:True, but you can use both...just top dress with the shredded leaves. Stretches the life of your mulch and still looks nice.


Jean ....

I mulch with shredded leaves twice a year. It only took one wind storm to convince me that shredded leaves were the way to go in my garden. They stay put ... Big Grin

When I started the garden, I had dead soil. The shredded leaves were sufficient to bring it back to life. I have a no till garden and have never tilled the leaves into the soil. I still have plenty of worms.

Smiles,
Lyn

I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.

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