Library Home
Calculate Your Impact
Green Business
Paper Reduction
Bicycle Recycling
The Story of Stuff


Mulch is a protective cover placed over soil to reduce weeds and erosion and retain moisture and warmth. Leaves, pine needles and grass clippings can be easily raked onto your vegetable and flower beds to provide protection and soil nutrition for an even more productive growing season next year. By using materials from your yard, you improve the health of your garden while benefitting the environment.

Why mulch?

  1. It’s a free and natural way to protect and enhance your garden.

  2. It’s recycling at its best - reusing materials in your yard to enhance your garden.

  3. It reduces the environmental impact of managing your yard debris at a distant location.

Tips for mulching

  1. Clean up your yard by using fallen leaves, grass clippings, and other plant materials as mulch. Deciduous leaves are best for vegetable and flower beds. Evergreen leaves work well to cover pathways. Wood chips can be used around trees or bushes.

  2. Shred leaves prior to mulching to make the covering more porous.

  3. Weed and water before applying mulch and make sure dead or infected plants are removed.

  4. Avoid mulch that has been exposed to chemicals such as weed killer.

  5. Apply mulch evenly using 1-3 inches for flower and vegetable gardens and 2-4 inches for trees, shrubs and woody perennials. Keep the mulch about one inch away from plant stems.

  6. For added protection, place a layer of old cardboard beneath your mulch in place of a fabric landscaping barrier. Read more about this method in our Weekly Tips.

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Rake up your leaves, grass clippings and other yard material.

  2. Place in an even layer on your garden beds.

  3. Water to keep the mulch in place and to start decomposition.


  • Seattle City Light line clearing crew for wood chips: 206.386.1733