Mulching your garden beds with fall leaves is a free resource that is readily available and very effective. Leaves can be used exclusively for all your mulching needs, provided you keep a few things in mind. You only want to apply 2” to 4” of mulch flat over the root zone. You’ll also want to keep mulch away from stems and trunks.
To use your fall leaves they will first have to be shredded, and to do this there are several methods. If you have a lawn mower you can simply eat away at your pile of leaves to shred them or spread them out flat and roll right over them. I find my bagging mower helps make things easier by only having to mow the leaves and empty the bag, no raking needed. If you have a blower with mulching/ shredding attachments this will also turn those fall leaves into beneficial mulch. It was also suggested at the latest Master Gardener meeting to use a weed wacker in a large trash can for those of us that don't have lawn mowers.
Whole leaves will layer like shingles and shed water, not allowing it to sink into the root zone, leaving your plants and trees pretty thirsty. A layer of whole leaves will block airflow, which leads to rotting of leaves and of plant roots. While decomposition is a good thing in the garden, rotting is not. That’s why we shred the leaves to create mulch that will block sunlight, let water penetrate, retain water, suppress weed activity, decompose beneficially, and allow airflow.
Submitted by Jamaal Brown