I know compost is usually used as a soil amendment, but if you have some left over, think about it: it’s free, it has loads of nutrients, and it’s full of beneficial microorganisms, worms, and other natural decomposers.
Chop them up (with a string trimmer) or shred them into little pieces (with a lawn mower) and scatter them over the soil. If your leaves are on the small side (like those from aspen trees), you can even leave them whole.
A by-product of mushroom farming that’s sold to the public in some places, mushroom compost makes for great mulch. It’s high in calcium and other nutrients, improves water retention, and attracts earthworms.
When sourcing straw or hay to use in your garden, be sure to ask the supplier if it’s unsprayed. Pesticide residues in treated grasses can wreak havoc on the soil by stunting the growth of your plants.
This is a good choice if you want a very durable mulch that holds its shape and won’t blow away. I especially like shredded bark for defining pathways and mulching sloped areas. It’s ideal if you live in a rainy, windy, or hilly region.