Leaf Mulch vs Wood Mulch: All You Should Know

What’s the difference between wood mulch and leaf mulch? There are different types of mulch to go for, and it happens that mulching is one of the important ways you can keep your garden thriving. The process of leaf mulching is very different from wood mulch, but they serve the same purpose.

Mulching is meant to improve your soil moisture and covering your soil with any layer can prevent erosion and save your plants or lawn from drying out quickly. This is an important step in any gardening, however, the mulching method plays a lot of role in how healthy your garden gets to be.

The soil temperature also determines how effective your choice of mulch will be. Both leaf mulch and wood mulch are popular options for any garden.

Leaf mulch breaks down into organic matter, so it needs to be replaced frequently while wood mulch can take longer to break down. The right choice can save you lots of time, energy, and effort.

The Purpose Of Mulching

Mulch simply means finding a natural roof to protect your soil from erosion and the main reason gardeners mulch is to reduce the growth of weeds in the garden drastically. This is considered a more natural method, and it does other things like maintaining the optimal temperature of the soil.

This technique has been around for centuries, although some modern methods were only recently added to it. Mulching can be in the form of any organic material, the purpose is just to keep your soil warm, suppress weeds and generally protect your soil.

Moisture retention is another important purpose of mulching. The nutrient holding capacity of the soil tends to increase since this mulch decomposes into the soil itself and with the right mulch material, you can increase the nutrient level of the soil.

Leaf Mulch vs Wood Mulch

Leaf Mulch and wood mulch can both save time and help your plants stay healthy. However, you need to weigh the pros, and the cons of this two before choosing anyone. There is no harm in experimenting and looking for the best mulch for your garden.

There are two types of mulch which are organic and inorganic mulch. These two types of mulch can help improve your soil. Wood and leaf mulch both fall under the organic type of mulch.

To help you decide between this two, below are things you should know.

Leaf MulchWood Mulch
Leaf mulch simply consists of shredded leaves
Leaf mulch is beneficial during the colder months
It can draw in earthworms and some beneficial organisms too
It decomposes faster and will need constant reapplication
Leaf mulch is densely packed together, so it can restrict air and sunlight.
Wood mulch contains barks and woods in different sizes
Wood mulch can last a very long time there eliminating some expenses
The wrong type of wood is likely to mess with your garden acidity
Wood mulch is not packed together as leaf mulch and lasts longer
Wood mulch is not ideal for acid-loving plants as they add alkalinity to the soil.

Is it OK to use leaves as mulch?

Yes, leaves can be a better type of mulch to use in vegetable gardens, around shrubs, trees, and flower beds as well. It’s an affordable and cheaper option too and a land mown can make shredding and collecting the leaves easy.

However, you can also make use of fallen leaves, they can help preserve moisture better.

What to Use Instead Of Mulch
Image: @MargJohnsonVA via Twenty20

Benefits Of Leaf Mulch

What are the benefits of leaf mulch? Whether you own a vegetable garden or flower bed, leaf mulching can be a great option since it breaks down faster than some organic mulch methods. Leaf mulching is not just beneficial to the garden but to the environment as well. Here are reasons why you might consider leaf mulch.

  • It can reduce the need for fertilizing since it improves soil fertility as it decomposes
  • It can help suppress weeds
  • Leave mulches to reduce landfill space
  • It retains moisture and reduces the need for irrigation
  • Protects your plants all season, and keeps the soil cooler in summer and warm in winter.

Leaf mulch has lots of benefits, and it’s not meant for your lawn or vegetable garden alone, it can be great for the environment at large too. Using leaf to mulch will not only save time, but it’s an inexpensive way of keeping your soil healthy.

Benefits Of Wood Mulch

Wood mulch is quite a common method of mulching, and it involves using woods or barks of any size around your plants.

This type of organic mulch is best around established plants and trees and won’t do much good for vegetable beds except using them to create a path. Below are some of its benefits.

  • Wood mulch can help retain moisture and prevent soil erosion
  • It can prevent the growth of weeds and pests thereby eliminating the need for herbicides and pesticides
  • It can improve the structure of the soil, decaying wood mulch can add nutrients to the soil
  • Can prevent water from reaching the tree roots and reduce the chance of the tree becoming drought-stressed
  • Wood mulch prevents soil compaction.

Wood mulch is also readily available which makes it an affordable option too and due to its varieties of texture and color, it can help beautify your green yard or garden.

Mulching with wood is suitable for your annuals, and vegetables during winter.

Does wood mulch provide nutrients?

Yes, wood mulch can provide nutrients just like any other type of organic mulch. As wood mulch gradually breaks down, it can slowly provide some nutrients to your soil although not enough reason to not feed your soil if there is a need to. But wood mulch can help save money by putting nutrients back into the soil as it slowly decomposes.

Does wood chip mulch attract termites?

There have been some concerns about wood chips attracting termites but according to gardeners, this is not the case. Termites are often attracted to any garden mulch and wood chip is one of them since it provides them with a faster way to travel. So, the wood chip does not attract termites, but these pests generally find their way into any garden or mulch method.

Do mulched leaves make good fertilizer?

Mulched leaves can be excellent for your soil. Mulched leaves decompose and as it does that, they can leave nutrients that can lead to healthy plants in your soil. Some leaf litter can be wonderful for your lawn as well and with the right application of leaves, you will be getting free nitrogen application.

Which type of mulch is best?

With the different types of mulch out there, choosing the right one can be a bit complicated.

However, the best type of mulch gardeners recommend stone mulches and this is because they won’t break down and tend to stay put. However, keep in mind that this only works if you are not looking to add some nutrients to your garden.

In general, it doesn’t matter what type of mulch you choose, just ensure your soil and plants are benefiting from it. You should pick a type of mulch with a larger chunk. Wood mulch can help improve your garden landscape, and it is considered healthier too.

Final Thoughts

While all organic mulch can help keep your plants healthy, they each have their drawbacks as well.

Wood mulch tends to last a very long time but if the layer is too thick, the weight can crush your plants instead. While leaf mulch can also be blown away if it is not positioned properly. So, tenure to choose carefully the one that helps your plants grow.