And not just pretty mulch, but FREE mulch. Easy mulch. Nature’s mulch.
How I love the bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) trees along my driveway! Looking up into the canopy at any time of the year brings on a rush of gratitude. In autumn, its the the fresh carpet of golden leaves below that makes my heart soar.
A fluffy blanket of leaves is a gardener’s gift. It’s nature’s way of recycling plant material into organic matter, of feeding the soil and its denizens. Fallen leaves prevent erosion, insulate roots from extreme temperatures and help the tree through the dry season. I appreciate how the thick layer prevents most weeds from germinating.
True: the driveway must be cleared. Yet a rake or blower allows us to direct the leaves where their winter cover is most useful. Walking around gently tamps them down to keep them in place, especially after a soaking rain.
Any deciduous tree’s leaves can make a fine mulch–it doesn’t have to be maple. Enjoy what you have! An exception might be leaves from fruit trees, or if your tree has a serious foliar disease that is known to spread through fallen leaves. In those cases it might be best to either collect and trash, or use a layer of arborist chips for mulch instead.
I’ve had a neighboring gardener see me raking and ask: “You going to use those leaves?” I smiled and answered “Oh yes! But funny you should ask…” That was the year I played matchmaker (leaf broker?) for a friend with a tiny yard buried in maple leaves who hated to see them end up in the yard waste bin, or worse, the landfill.
The generous maple leaves have come in handy to mulch new garden beds in other areas of my yard, to bolster the brown component of my compost and as stuffing inside burlap to wrap and insulate potted plants during extreme cold spells.
Now, I’ll leaf you to appreciate your own trees and the free mulch they provide.