using oak leaves as mulch

Asked September 25, 2019, 10:48 AM EDT

I was thinking of using my oak leaves as mulch for my garden beds this fall instead of bagging them up for curbside pick up. Does this increase the acidity in the soil? Pros and cons?? thanks, Rebekah Kaufman

Baltimore County Maryland mulch

1 Response

Hi - Using oak leaves (or any shade tree leaves) as mulch is a good practice. Oak leaves are somewhat acidic, but they will have little effect on changing your soil pH as they breakdown and decompose. They are beneficial as a source of nutrients and organic matter for your soil. Leaves can be shredded first with a lawnmower or leaf shredder. The smaller particles are more likely to stay in place rather than blow away. Another option would be to just rake them into an area of your property to decompose naturally and then use the compost on your garden later. Some types of butterflies and bumblebees use leaves for protection in the winter so leaving them whole would be beneficial to support wildlife. There is more information in the links below:
https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/yard-and-garden-fallen-leaves
https://xerces.org/2017/10/06/leave-the-leaves/

Christa