What is mulch?

Brown leaves and other dry plant material can be used as mulch on top of garden soil between plants. Mulching helps suppress weeds and keeps soil from drying out. 

  • Weed and moisten soil before applying mulch.
  • Spread leaves, woodchips, shredded dead plants or grass clippings out 3-6" deep between garden plants. Newly sprouting or sensitive plants may need 2-3" of space between themselves and the mulch, but most well-established plants will not mind touching it.
  • Replenish the mulch layer as necessary to cover the soil and deter weeds.
  • No maintenance necessary.

Mulch improves underlying soil by protecting it from the elements, creating habitat for beneficial bugs and earthworms, and slowly breaking down into humus. Mulch can either be tilled into the soil annually or left to break down slowly on top. Mulch can also be used to insulate cold-sensitive plants over the winter.

What composting style does it fit?

Mulch is one of the lowest-maintenance system available and so works well for both hands-off and hands-on composters. It adds fertility to garden soil while increasing soil moisture and supressing weeds.

What space does it need?

Mulch should be placed in a garden.

How does it work?

Direct hot sun, wind, and hard rain can compact, erode, or leach nutrients out of soil. Mulch creates a barrier against these elements while keeping the soil more consistently damp and cool for plants' roots. It also suppresses weeds by excluding light and smothering sprouts.

Beneficial bugs thrive in the habitat created by the mulch. Burrowers like earthworms will slowly drag bits of the organic matter down into the soil below, improving fertility and texture.

Can you use it all year?

Mulching is done in spring, summer, or fall. Most people will not have leaves, grass clippings, or woodchips to mulch in winter.

Testing it out:


Got more composting questions? Email the Composting Hotline at [email protected] or leave a message at (306) 931-3249

Residents of Saskatoon can also use the hotline to request a free home visit from a Compost Coach. Our Coaches can provide composting advice, help you set up a new compost system, or troubleshoot and existing system. Visits typically take 15-45 minutes.