Mulching and composting


Mulch is a protective layer of a material that is spread on top of the soil. Your soil, plants and earthworms will love it!

Tips on mulching

  • Remove the bagging unit on your mower; simply mow over the leaves to create fine mulch. This will help fertilize the lawn and will also save bagging time.
  • Rake whole leaves onto your garden beds. By next summer they will have all but disappeared thanks to earthworms, which pull the leaves down into the soil when they feed.
  • Wait until the ground freezes before mulching. You're not keeping the plants warm. You're keeping the temperature of the wet soil more constant to prevent heaving, which damages dormant perennials, bulbs and other plants with shallow roots. Mulch also helps keep soil frozen during mild spells in winter.
  • Pile your mulch six inches deep. A six-inch layer of shredded leaves protects tender perennials, roses and other plants from cold weather.

Feed your composter

Dry leaves are a great carbon-rich ingredient for your compost pile. Just keep a pile of leaves nearby and alternate layers of leaves with layers of kitchen waste that can be composted. Compost is the partially decomposed remains of plants and kitchen waste.

It can be used to:

  • Enrich your garden;
  • Improve the soil around your trees and shrubs; and
  • Help make your plants healthier.
  • Screened compost is terrific as a seed-starting mix or lawn top dressing.

For more information about composting, contact The Composting Council of Canada at 416-535-0240. 

All the leaves collected from leaf drop off sites and through curbside collection are composted locally on farms and through the Region of Waterloo compost program.

Important tips about tar spots

If you have a maple tree with black spots on the leaves - do not compost those leaves. To prevent the spread of the fungus we recommend you bring them to our drop-off sites or use the region's bi-weekly yard waste collection program.

For more information about tar spots, visit the University of Guelph website and search "tar spots.

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