How to Mulch Yard Waste


You may consider your grass clippings, fallen leaves and broken tree branches as yard waste, but these items are high in nutrients. Return these nutrients to the soil by mulching them. Not only is this better for your plants and garden soil, but it prevents your yard waste from going into a landfill. The main aim of mulching yard waste is to make the pieces smaller so they decompose faster.

Step 1

Mow your lawn. You can either leave the bag off and allow the grass clippings to naturally add nitrogen back to the soil, or you can collect the grass clippings in the bag and dump them in a compost pile to add nitrogen to the compost pile.

Step 2

Rake up the leaves and then run them over with a lawnmower. This is an effective way to shred the leaves. You can allow the leaves to break down on your lawn naturally, or add them to a compost pile.

Step 3

Rent a wood chipper and turn broken tree branches in to wood chips. Either toss these in to your compost pile, or spread them around your plants before winter. They will provide protection for the plants roots as well as keep weeds from shooting up around the plant in the spring.

Step 4

Complete your compost pile if you made one. Compost piles consist of three layers. Your first layer is your organic layer (all the grass clippings, shredded leaves, and wood chips plus kitchen scraps). The second layer is fertilizer (manure). Your final third layer is soil. These layers need to be mixed together after they are assembled, and then tossed once per week until they have broken down in to an earthy type substance.

Step 5

Use your compost in your flower or vegetable garden.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not sprinkle mulch around the base of a tree. This can allow diseases present to spread up the tree. Do not mulch any leaves or branches that were treated with chemicals.

Things You'll Need

  • Lawnmower
  • Rake
  • Wood chipper


  • University of Minnesota: Composting and Mulching: A Guide to Managing Organic Yard Waste
  • North Carolina State University: Mulching Trees and Shrubs
  • Colorado State University: Composting Yard Waste
Keywords: composting yard waste, organic mulch, mulching yard waste

About this Author

Alicia Bodine has been a professional writer for six years. She has produced thousands of articles for online publications such as Demand Studios, Bright Hub, Associated Content and WiseGeek. Bodine is also the current cooking guru for LifeTips. She has received awards for being a top content producer.