What to Mulch the Garden and Vegetable Garden in Autumn: 6 Best Options for Soil Protection

Mulching is the process of covering the soil with natural or chemical materials for a long period of time. Mulch retains moisture and heat in the soil and protects plants from pests and diseases. Fall mulching is considered the most important because the soil needs to be protected from frost. Here are the best materials for autumn mulching.

Fallen leaves

If you do not know how to use the fallen leaves for the benefit of the plot – mulch the ground with them. It is fallen leaves that are the mulch for the soil in the wild. Such material enriches the soil with nutrients and accelerates the growth of plants in the spring. It is recommended to cover the home plot with leaves of birch, alder, linden, and maple. The leaves should be dry when laying.

Suitable for mulching fruit trees and berry bushes. Do not mulch vegetable beds with leaves.

Conifer needles

Conifers are the best material for mulching flowers. Gather spruce or pine needles and fill the area densely with needles. The spruce layer will protect the ground from frost and drying out, as well as prevent disease. Note that pine needles oxidize the soil.

Suitable for strawberries, blueberries, flowers, evergreens, and plants that like acidic soil. Not suitable for plants that do not like acidic soil.


Straw mulch enriches the soil with nutrients and increases its fertility. The straw will protect the soil from frosts and keep it warm for a long time. The minus of this material is that it attracts rodents.

Suitable for strawberries, winter greens, garlic, blackberries, winter potatoes, and grapes. Not suitable for areas frequented by mice.


Sawdust is an excellent fertilizer for any type of soil, especially when combined with compost. They enrich even very poor soil with useful substances and protect the site from frost. If you decide to fill your plot with sawdust, dry it thoroughly. Sawdust should be removed from the soil in early spring because once decomposed, it draws nitrogen from the soil.

Suitable for fruit trees, berry bushes, grapes, bulbous flowers, and winter vegetables.


Compost is considered one of the best materials for mulching the soil, but it must be mature, and at least 2 years old. Compost is spread on the plot in a layer of 5 cm and covered on the top with hay or leaves. Such mulch not only fertilizes the soil but also protects plants from diseases.

It is suitable for vegetable winter crops, grapes, fruit trees, and berry bushes.


Peat is suitable for mulching areas with heavy soil. It improves soil structure, retains moisture, and stimulates the spring growth of plants. Only transitional and lowland peat can be used for mulching.

Suitable for vegetables and herbs planted for the winter. Do not mulch the soil with fresh peat.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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