A Simple DIY Way To Make Mulch

Like many folks, we have shrubbery beds surrounding our home.  Today, I had a few extra hours after work, so I grabbed my favorite pruning shears and began the process of pruning our shrubs.

We have five major shrubbery beds – one for each side of the house and one that encircles a stand of oaks.  Over the years, I’ve used various material for mulching the beds – pines straw, fallen leaves, and bagged cypress mulch.

Over time, whatever mulch is used will compact, disintegrate, and discolor.  So, instead of going out an purchasing some sort of mulch (or raking the neighbor’s yard for pine straw) – I decided to try something a little different.

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I pruned all of the shrubs in one particular bed – and placed the cut-offs on the ground, just outside the bed.  I then removed the brick barrier from the edge of the bed – and raked all of the old mulch (a combination of the three mentioned above) out into the yard.  I mixed the pile of old mulch and the cut-offs from the shrubbery – and started up the old lawn mower.

I raised the blade of the mower and slowly began to chop through the 3 to 5 inch pile of cut-offs and old mulch, chopping the pile into hundreds of little pieces.  I ran the mower through the pile, reversing direction, 10 or 12 times, until all of the leaves, stems, pieces of pines straw, and chunks of cypress were chopped into little bits.

I then used my blower and my rake to transfer the little bits back in to the shrubbery bed – and was able to create a nice, even, good looking mulch for the bed.  The homemade mulch looks great – and should actually breakdown, like compost, while it does its jobs of holding in water and protecting plant roots.

I may show a few pictures, once I’ve completed all of the beds. I think I’ve found a good way to reuse the cut-offs from my shrubbery to make some high quality mulch – for free!

Side note:  I’m also experimenting with using plain old cardboard as a weed-barrier.