As an Amazon Associate and affiliate of other programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

How To Make Mulch Without A Chipper? Check These 5 Ways

There are multiple ways to make mulch without using a chipper, but one of the most common ways is to use a lawnmower. You will need to gather your mulch material, such as leaves, into a pile on a smooth surface and go over it with your lawnmower.

If you have a garden, chances are that you’re well aware of the amazing benefits of using mulch. And to top it off, mulch can be made out of materials commonly found in our yards that we would usually throw away, such as crushed leaves and grass clippings.

While it’s popular for people to use a chipper to make mulch, you really don’t need one to get the job done because there are so many different ways to go about it. 

In this article, I’ll give you a run-down on how to make mulch without a chipper!

To Mulch Or Not To Mulch?

Wood chips, bark and dead leaves as mulch
Image credit:

Are you still wondering whether or not your garden really needs mulch? Or confused about what its purpose is? I got you! Let’s get through some of the nitty-gritty before we jump into the different ways to make mulch without a chipper.

Mulch is essentially made out of materials such as crushed leaves, wood chips and grass clippings. There are many other materials you could use, but the one thing they all have in common is that they’re all natural and decomposable. Economical and eco-efficient? Say no more!

Mulch has the ability to suppress weeds, lock moisture into the soil and act as a barrier against drying winds and direct sun. It can even contain nutrients, depending on what you use, giving you healthy soil in which your plants can flourish. 

English ivy with mulch at the base

Using mulch is a simple, cost-effective way to tend to the health of your garden. There’s no need to spend money on mulch materials or any equipment, such as chippers. Regarding its disadvantages, it has the very minimal and rare potential of harm such as creating hiding places for insects, but overall, its benefits definitely outweigh any possible risks. 

Ready to give mulch a try? Let’s get into how you can make mulch without a chipper in 5 ways!

5 Ways How To Make Mulch Without A Chipper

How To Make Mulch Using A Lawnmower

A manual lawn mower head

If there’s one material that I’m sure most of us have in abundance, no matter where in the world we are, it’s fallen leaves! Instead of throwing them out, how about putting them to good use by making mulch out of them? Leaves + your trusty lawnmower = perfect mulch!

Yes, you read right! A lawnmower is an excellent tool to use to shred your leaves, turning them into mulch. But if you’re using leaves as mulch, you have to make sure that they’re shredded. Normal, whole leaves won’t do well as mulch. 

To shred leaves, you can gather them on a flat surface into a pile that’s around 2 inches high. Make sure your pile is level using a rake to smooth them over. Mow over the pile with your lawnmower (you might have to do this a couple of times until you get the perfect size). And voila, your mulch is ready to be used!

Self-propelled lawn mower running over dry leaves

No lawnmower or shredder? No worries! Check out this piece on how to shred leaves without a shredder for more ways to achieve the desired size.

Shredded leaf mulch is great because it’s super easy to use on your soil. Shredded leaves are light, so they settle down easily and they don’t weigh down plants. 

How To Make Mulch From Yard Waste

A pile of grass cuttings on a wheel barrow

Full disclosure: This method isn’t so much a “method” as it is a rundown of how to find material that’s ready to be used and doesn’t need to be prepped first. 

Do you have a heap of grass clippings and removed weeds and plants drying out in your backyard? Put them to use by using them as mulch! 

There isn’t much work to be done here if you’re using grass clippings because they’re already cut to size. If you’re using bigger pieces of yard waste, like maybe plants, you can refer to the above method and use a lawnmower to cut them down to size first before using. 

How To Make Mulch By Chopping Up Your Material

Firewood being chopped

I’ll be the first to admit that this method is a bit labor-intensive and risky, but if you’re used to wielding an ax or shears to chop things up in the garden, please do try this one out.

If you have some wood lying around that you’d like to make use of, you still can! You just need to make sure they’re brought down to an appropriate size to be used as mulch. This is where your handy chopping tools come in. 

If you have an ax, shears, chainsaw, or any other similar tool, just chop your wood down to dime-size pieces and voila, your mulch is ready!

YouTube user Homesteading Off The Grid does a great job of showing how to use a chainsaw to make mulch in this video:

YouTube player

How To Make Mulch By Grinding Your Material Down

A running angle grinder

Another method of making mulch is to use an angle grinder to grind mulch material, like branches. This isn’t a very popular method because you could potentially cause damage to your angle grinder or injure yourself in the process. That being said, it has worked for some people and if you’re an angle grinding pro who takes precautions, you could definitely pull it off!

To use an angle grinder to make your wood perfect for mulch, you’ll need to feed pieces of wood into the angle grinder to make your pieces smaller. 

Please remember to use safety gloves and goggles if you plan on trying out this method to avoid injury. 

How To Make Newspaper Mulch

News papers used as mulch
Image credit:

Newspapers are biodegradable and (surprisingly) make for excellent mulch material. They will definitely suppress weeds and keep plants from encroaching past where they’re meant to be without using chemicals.

To use newspaper as mulch, you’ll need to make a layer of about 5 sheets of newspaper on your intended surface. Water it lightly to make sure they stick to the soil and don’t fly away if it gets windy. 

If you plan on planting over the area with newspaper, add on a layer of topsoil and then plant your beds. Over time, the newspaper will biodegrade into the soil and the roots will penetrate, allowing soil and moisture to get through. If the area is meant to be vacant, add some grass clippings or compost just to make sure the area doesn’t dry out. 

N.B. If you’re using old newspapers, please make sure that they don’t date back to 1990 or older because those newspapers apparently contain harmful chemicals, including lead. 

Mulching Pro Tips

Before you get stuck into it, here are some helpful tips and things you should take into consideration when choosing your mulch material and method to use if you’re not using a chipper.

Firstly, let’s talk about leaves because they are the most common mulch material. The type of leaves you choose is uber important because they will be in close proximity to your plants and shouldn’t contain any harmful toxins or ingredients. 

fallen leaves on a lawn

Most leaves are perfect to use, but be careful when using oak, eucalyptus and walnut leaves. Oak leaves are naturally acidic and should be used in moderation, except if you’re planting a crop that thrives in soil with a higher acid content. Eucalyptus and walnut leaves are major no-nos because they contain too many harmful toxins.

The most important thing about making your own mulch is making sure that your material is the perfect size. The preferred and most beneficial size per piece can be likened to the size of a dime, as mentioned above. If you’re using your lawnmower to cut your material down, check whether it has a mulching blade installed because that will make it a lot easier for you.

Before you get started, make sure you’ve pulled out all the weeds from the area you plan on mulching so that you have a clean surface to work with.

Pulling out dandelion weed

Lastly, if you have leftover mulch, you can store it in a trash bag that’s well ventilated. You can do this by poking holes in the bag. 

A bag of wood chips as mulch


What Materials Can Be Used For Mulching?

Materials that can be used for mulching include organic straw, wood, grass clippings, leaves and newspapers. Mulch material must be decomposable and is usually all-natural.

How Do You Make Yard Waste Mulch?

To make yard waste mulch, you first need to ensure that your yard waste is of a suitable size. Any material used for mulch needs to be the size of a dime. If you use leaves, shred them before adding them to your other yard waste, like grass clippings.

Now You Know How To Make Mulch Without A Chipper!

Now that you’ve gone through my 5 ways on how to make mulch without a chipper, I hope you’re ready to go ahead and try out one of them and get your garden looking as good as new! 

Making your own mulch at home is both cost-effective and eco-friendly, and while it may come with risks, at times, it definitely is rewarding when you see the end result – a beautiful, thriving garden.

What did you think about my 5 ideas? Please leave a comment below if you plan on trying one of them. I’d love to hear from you!

Photo of author

About The Author

Brett Jones

Brett's the kind of guy you'd never peg as having such an amazing yard. He's shy and private, avoiding social media and the spotlight. By day, Brett works quietly as an electrician technician, helping folks with wiring and repairs. But get Brett home to his place in Raleigh, where Nadya's always dreaming up new landscaping ideas, and you see another side of him. Brett happily rolls up his sleeves to transform their modest backyard into a lush, cozy oasis. The yard's really a labor of love for them, a place to unwind on weekends, entertain friends, and make cherished memories together. Nadya might come up with all the creative concepts, but Brett's the one ensuring each vision comes to stunning life. They make a great team, even if Brett's content to operate behind the scenes. At heart, Brett's a simple man who finds purpose and joy in small things. Puttering in their garden under the sun or cooking out back in the evenings - these are the things that fulfill him. Brett cares deeply for crafting a space ideal for intimacy, nurturing a life well-lived away from fanfare. Follow him on Twitter.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.