How to Mulch
Mulches are materials used on top of the soil to suppress weeds, hold moisture, prevent erosion and provide and attractive ground cover. Mulching involves grinding your yard trimmings and applying them directly to soil surfaces without the breakdown of the material by microorganisms.
Materials to Use
Most yard debris is suitable for mulching.
• Non-woody materials (greens) are best in flower and vegetable gardens because they break down quickly and can then be turned under without competing with plants for the nitrogen in the soil.
• If fresh grass clippings are used, use layers thinner than one inch. Woody yard trimmings and leaves (carbon-rich browns) can also be used, but should be pulled aside when tilling, or balanced by adding a high nitrogen source such as bloodmeal when turning them under.
• Shredded woody materials make excellent paths and play areas. Avoid mulching with plant materials recently treated with herbicides.
Mulching Yard Debris
1. Yard trimmings up to 1/8 inch diameter can be mulched by running over them with a rotary mower - a mulching mower or attachment will perform best. This is best managed by blowing the materials against a wall.
2. Chippers and shredders for home use can be purchased. Shredders are best for brush, leaves and stalks; chippers are required for tree and shrub branches. Many machines have both shredding and chipping capabilities.
3. Chippers and shredders can be rented from many rental stores and home improvement centers, by the hour or day.
• Machete: Green or woody vegetable stalks
• Lawn Mower: Leaves and twigs up to 1/8" diameter
• Electric Shredder: Leaves and twigs up to 1" diameter
• Gas Shredder (5 HP): Twigs and branches up to 2"
• Commercial Shredder (8+ HP): Branches over 2" diameter