greenqueen
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using shredded leaves as mulch

does anyone else do this? A few years ago I bought a chipper shredder, and every year I collect oak leaves from two yards and shred them up and use for mulch in pathways and perennial beds. It's cheap, and pretty, but doesn't last the whole season. Am I shredding them too small? I thought oak leaves take a long time to decompose?

DoubleDogFarm
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Almost anything chipped or shredded is reduced to 10% in volume. It's a great way to speed up decomposition.

In your pathways I would lay them down whole. They will form more of a mat and suppress weeds.

The shredded leaves would go nicely around your plants, break down and add to the soil.

Eric

Bobberman
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I would shred a few limbs mixed with the leaves for airation and less mushyness when they are real wet! If you grow some sunflowers the stems grind up nicely!
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toxcrusadr
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One reason oak leaves break down slowly is (in my opinion anyway) the waxy coating. Shredding breaks that up and opens them to the microherd.

I would think worms would go crazy in a shredded leaf mulch...
Tox

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soil
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we shred the leaves here, then pile them in a big mesh bin to make leaf mold. which is some of the best mulch you cant buy.
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greenqueen
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I can never wait long enough for the leaves to make leafmold. I just wish they would last a bit longer as mulch. Maybe I have to put a thicker layer down.

Luckily, I saved 20 full bags of oak leaves from my moms house. Have to shred them up and have some fun!

gumbo2176
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greenqueen wrote:I can never wait long enough for the leaves to make leafmold. I just wish they would last a bit longer as mulch. Maybe I have to put a thicker layer down.

Luckily, I saved 20 full bags of oak leaves from my moms house. Have to shred them up and have some fun!
Are there Magnolia trees in Chicago? Not sure if they will survive your winter temperatures since I'm only familiar with them in the south.

When I was a kid, I lived in a house that had 2 huge Magnolia trees on the property. I'd rake those leaves and pile them up and it took forever for them to decay unless they were shredded, and shredding them made for an interesting aroma I can still smell if I close my eyes and think about it.

My mom got tired of me piling them up and told me to bag them for the trash. You would not believe the amount of cockroaches a pile of Magnolia leaves attract in New Orleans. And I'll leave you with that mental image.

greenqueen
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OMG! I _H_A_T_E_ cockroaches! Yes we do have magnolias here, but unfortunately mine bit the dust a few years ago. I do have a good bit of them from my moms yard waiting to be shredded tho.

I just love the smell of any of the leaves shredded.

toxcrusadr
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Speaking of leaf mold, friends of mine recently took down a 3-ft. diameter white oak tree that was ready to fall. It was hollow but had enough wood around the outside to split for firewood so I went over to cut up the trunk into rounds. The bottom was full with several feet of humus, which was a combination of decomposed wood and leaf mold. Leaves must have blown or dropped in through a hole somewhere and accumulated for years. The leaf stems were still visible. That stuff was so spongy and gorgeous, I'm taking a bag back with me when I go for the rest of the wood. :!:
Tox

greenqueen
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Wow! What a nice surprise! It's your lucky day!

TZ -OH6
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I do it a bit differently because 1) I don't have much to mulch when I have lots of leaves, and 2) shredding with the lawnmower has its problems.


I collect all of the leaves within a reasonable distance, which includes the big piles the neighbors rake next to the road, and I pile them up for use the next spring. They get wet and matted over winter but that is good. The mats/pats of leaves then get placed around my vegetables and smother out weeds very well. the only drawback/danger I have found is that the dark leaves heat up in the sun and can cook small plants or lower leaves so the leaf mulch must be covered with grass clippings.

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rainbowgardener
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I collect bags of leaves in the fall when people put them out at the curb- just drive around and pick them up. I lay them down as mulch in the fall. In the spring I just crunch up the now-weathered leaves a bit and trowel them under. Later once the soil warms up, I will lay down more leaves (unshredded) for mulch. Since they are a mixture of lots of different leaf types, with stems and twigs and since they are pretty dry, I don't have much trouble with them matting down or anything. By the time I get to the bottom of the bags, there's usually some pretty nice leaf mould there.
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