Tips for Mulching Your Garden: 3 Natural, Free Options

The first layer of grass mulch in the garden.
It's finally gardening season in the Midwest. I'm hoping last week was our final frost warning and it's safe to put a few veggies into the ground today.

For the last three years I've explored natural ways to keep weeds at bay and make tending to my garden less of a chore. I want to pick vegetables, not pluck weeds.

So far I've figured out three natural things that work great as mulch.

What is mulch? It's a protective barrier that keeps weeds to minimum, often times provides nutrients to the soil and helps keep moisture in the ground to nourish plants during dry weather.

3 Types of Free, Natural Mulch for Your Garden


Newspaper: The first year I decided to forgo weed barrier paper, I used old newspaper instead. I soaked each sheet in a bucket of water and carefully tiled the garden with the newsprint. Then I cut holes in the paper where I wanted to plant my seedlings.

Since the newspaper is biodegradable and printed with soy inks, it's eco-friendly and eventually disintegrated into the soil. There was one drawback though: wind. I ended up using a layer of grass cuttings and a few stepping stones over the newspaper to keep it in place.

Fall Leaves: Two years ago we ran out of leaf bags and decided to pile the dry fallen leaves in the garden. We planned to later bag them for curbside collection, but that never got done.

They surprisingly broke down over the winter from the weight of snow and created a nice 6-inch layer of mulch around my plants. Some weeds still popped through but over all, I'd say this natural mulch kept my garden 75 percent weed-free.

Grass Cuttings: Last year I decided to try using fresh cut grass clippings as a mulch. Much like the leaves, it works great, and that's what I'm using this summer.

However, after it rains, the grass gets clumpy and has a bit of an odor. And after awhile, the nice green color turns boring gray. But, it still works well to keep weeds to a minimum.

Do you know how to mulch your garden with other natural products? Or, do you use old newspaper, leaves or grass? Please share your tips an ideas in the comments below.

Until Next Time,
Choose Healthy!

Angela Tague
Whole Foods Living

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