Nature’s Mulch is the Best

Mulch is pretty important. It keeps roots and soil cool during scorching hot summers, makes weeds easier to pull and helps conserve water.

When we use it in our landscapes, we’re mimicking the natural forest floor. Next time you hike through one of our area natural parks, take a look at the ground off the trail — it’s covered with leaves and other organic debris that drops to the ground. It’s called leaf litter, or nature’s mulch. That’s why when I have a choice, I prefer to leave the leaves that fall from my trees rather than use store-bought mulch.

More reasons to use leaves as mulch:

  • Other trees aren’t cut down and shredded to make mulch.
  • Much easier to just rake leaves into beds than bag them.
  • Leaves are free and there are lots of rules that can add extra costs if you plan on bagging them for City pick up.
  • Leaves are important for over-wintering birds that can rustle around in them for food and cover all winter.

Depending on where you live you may not have trees big enough to produce leaves for your beds yet. If you can’t bum some leaves from a neighbor or pick up mulch from the Bitters Road site go ahead and buy some starter mulch, but do think about what you’re buying. Of all the bagged mulches you can buy, cypress may be the most environmentally detrimental and one you’ll want to avoid if this concerns you.

But no matter what you choose, all mulch comes from somewhere else, even inorganic mulches such as granite or river rock are quarried. So whenever possible, live lighter on the land and use what falls on your landscape naturally. It’s cheaper and easier, too.

Picture of Dana Nichols
Dana Nichols
As conservation manager at SAWS, Dana spent her days promoting beautiful San Antonio landscapes that need little to no water while benefiting Texas wildlife. While she’s no longer whipping up new landscape programs, she’s still cooking up delicious dinners made with fresh herbs from her low-water-use garden or planning the next trip with her husband, Rick -- preferably to some exotic place that requires a passport.
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