Mulching strawberries with shredded fall leaves is an easy and free way to protect your strawberries over the winter months. Fall leaves can be collected for free and shredded with a mower or mulching leaf blower to help the leaves break down. Using whole fall leaves to mulch strawberries will work if they are mixed with other mulch types like straw.
Tips and tricks when mulching strawberries with leaves
When mulching with whole leaves it is important to consider how windy the area is. While fall leaves will break down over time, they will be light and will move around in your garden in the wind.
If you choose not to shred your fall leaves, then mix them with bark mulch or straw to keep them in place around your strawberries.
Benefits of leaf mulch for strawberries
Leaf mulch when shredded is a great addition to your strawberry patch. Leaves quickly break down to improve the soil, keep soil moisture in and prevent weeds. Here are the top benefits of leaf mulch for strawberries.
Shredded fall leaves or leaves that are mixed with other mulch types will form a blanket over the soil around your strawberry plant. This will block the light that would reach weed seeds and stop them from growing.
Keeping weeds away from your strawberry plants will help your plants to grow better as the weeds won’t be stealing nutrients away from the plants.
Keep water in the soil
Mulched leaves will help to keep water in the soil around strawberry plants as it will help to reduce evaporation. Strawberry plants are thirsty so any effort to keep water in the soil will help you to grow more strawberries and water less often.
Improve soil bacteria growth
Building a healthy population of soil bacteria will help to break mulch down and release nutrients into the soil. Soil bacteria will digest the leaves and it will gradually break down incorporating into your soil.
Attract more worms
As the mulch is broken down by soil bacteria worms will come to eat the mulch and the soil bacteria turning it into worm castings. This rich material is a fantastic addition to your soil adding extra organic matter, water holding capacity and support root growth.
How to shred leaves for strawberries without a mower
The easiest way shred leaves for your strawberries without a mower or blowervac is to tear them with your hands. Soft leaves like oak or maple will easily tear into smaller pieces. The smaller the leaf piece the quicker it will break down and it will easily let rain through to the soil.
Larger leaves will blow away if not shredded so tear them up and mix them with some straw.
How to mulch strawberry plants with leaves
To add leaf mulch to your strawberries first collect up your leaves, lay on them on your lawn and run over them with your lawn mower. These leaves can be collected in your lawn mower’s catcher and then sprinkled around your strawberries.
Fall leaves can also be sucked up by your blowervac with a mulching attachment and collected in the bag included. This is a great way to shred lots of leaves which can be emptied straight from the bag around your strawberries.
To shred leaves without a mower or blowervac, tear them with your hands before placing them around yours strawberries.
Leaf mulch can be placed on top of any old mulch around your strawberries without removing it. All of these mulches will break down together to improve the soil around your strawberries.
Should strawberry plants be mulched?
Strawberry plants should be mulched with an organic material which could be dry fall leaves, straw, sugar cane or wood mulch.
To find out more about mulching strawberries with wood mulch, check out my previous article here.
Cover the soil around your strawberries with a mulch layer around 2-3 inches thick to prevent weeds but to still allow rain to flow through.
Keep any mulch away from the crown or stem of your strawberries to avoid blocking it from the sun. This will help to prevent stem rot.
Best mulch for strawberries
The best mulch for strawberries is a natural mulch which could include straw, sugar cane, wood mulch or leaves. All of these mulches have their own benefits for strawberries here are the benefits of each mulch type for strawberries.
|Mulch Types||Benefits as a mulch for Strawberries|
|Fall leaves||Free, easy to collect, allows rain to flow through, improves soil structure.|
|Wood mulch||Long lasting, low cost, prevents weeds.|
|Straw||Breaks down quickly to improve soil, protects strawberries from touching soil.|
|Hay||Low cost, breaks down easily, water flows through to the soil, keeps moisture in.|
|Sugar cane||Attracts a range of good soil bacteria, protects from weeds, can be bought in compacted bags so easy to transport.|
Best leaves to mulch strawberry plants
Dry fall leaves are the best leaves to use for mulch and a range of leaf types will work well. Maple, oak, ash, aspen, cherry and pear leaves. Mix these leaf types with others to increase the range of nutrient that will be broken down into your soil.
A mix of leaf sizes will also benefit the soil around your strawberries as they will hold each other in place. Leaves work best when shredded and will be less likely to blow around on windy days.
Mulch strawberries with leaves – Summary
Dry fall leaves can be a great mulch for your strawberry plants. This is a free mulch that has the added benefit of cleaning up your yard and avoiding leaf matter ending up in landfill.
Mix leaves with other mulch types to diversify the bacteria in your soil and add a range of nutrients for your strawberry plants.
For more tips on how to grow strawberries check out my previous article here: No fruit on strawberry plants.