How to Use Leaves as Mulch for a Vegetable Garden


Mulch has many purposes. It helps minimize weed growth. It slows down water evaporation and adds nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. Mulch maintains more consistent soil temperatures and helps prevent the soil from becoming too compact and from eroding. Leaves make an excellent source for mulching and since leaves are readily available from your own landscape, from a neighbor who might gladly let you take his leaves and even from a local municipal leaf collection site.

Step 1

Layer leaves around the base of your vegetable plants, about 2 to 3 inches deep. If desired, mow the leaves first so they'll decompose faster and add nutrients more quickly to your soil. A mower with a bag attached will eliminate the need for raking if using chopped leaves.

Step 2

Place 2 to 3 inch layer of whole leaves in between the rows in your vegetable garden to create a pathway that helps prevent weeds and does not get muddy.

Step 3

Replace the leaves as needed to maintain a height of 2 to 3 inches throughout the growing season since the leaves will decompose.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use leaves from black walnut trees. They contain a chemical called juglone that slows plant growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Mower


  • Texas A&M University: Don't Bag It - Leaf Management Plan
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Mulches for the Home Vegetable Garden
Keywords: mulch leaves, mulch vegetable garden, leaves vegetable garden

About this Author

Melissa Lewis has been a professional writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in various online publications. A former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist, Lewis is also a script writer, with a movie script, "Homecoming," she co-wrote currently in production. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology.