Garden planning?

Grass Clippings & Weeds as Garden Mulch

Everyone who has a garden will inevitably dislike weeds. They invade your growing seedlings and fight with them for nutrition in the soil, not to mention the hours you spend weeding in the garden (a glass of wine helps!).

What if I told you that you can turn those weeds into great garden mulch while adding nutrition in the soil rather than taking it away?!

Using weeds as free garden mulch

Mulch can be one of the best things for your garden.

It suppresses weeds which reduces your garden workload, decomposes back into the soil (which then builds up your soil) and gives plants increased water retention.

There are mulches you lay in-between your garden beds (usually gravel, wood chips, black matting etc) that you walk on and mulch that you put down in-between your vegetable rows (usually something that decomposes like leaves, straw, hay). I’ve review my favorite mulches in this post.

However buying mulch can add up in price, and for the frugal gardeners out there, wild and free weeds can definitely be used as garden mulch!

The trick is to harvest the weeds before they have set seed.

Where to find free mulch

Here are some wild and free weeds that you could use:
  • Grass from yard clippings or mower
  • Tall grass (see pic above)
  • Dandelion greens (make sure there’s no flowers going to seed!)
  • Large burdock leaves
  • Deciduous tree leaves (add them in the fall)
If you are mulching paths you will need larger mulches like bark, straw etc…but mulching in between rows of growing vegetables is equally important in helping to reduce weeding time. 

You will need to keep applying more throughout the summer as the weeds decompose fast.

But luckily weeds also grow fast so just keep on picking and adding them to your garden! If you have a large lawn use the lawn bag full of grass clippings in-between the rows every time you mow.

Will this work for every garden?

Of course if your garden is huge and you do wish to mulch to save you the weeding time and aiding in water retention then you’ll need to look into investing into bales of straw or do the garden of eden wood mulch, but for a small frugal garden using weeds as mulch is perfect!

Have you used weeds as garden mulch?


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  1. I never thought of weeds as mulch, I guess I assumed it would make MORE weeds lol…I’m a newbie at gardening and learning a lot right now for my upcoming container garden. I’m guessing I don’t really need to mulch my containers though?

    • Containers need to be watered more than garden beds during the summer and mulching retains water so it definitely helps! You can use weeds so long as they HAVEN’T gone to seed, that’s the only time they will make more weeds 🙂

    • I have started mulching containers as well. It doesn’t take much and it helps decrease moisture evaporation, prevent weed seeds from germinating, minimizes splashing when watering, and just looks nice! I also use whatever I can get to mulch my plants. I’m a big fan of cut grass, including weeds. I’m also going to use shredded paper this year as well.

  2. I used to dig up weeds and lay them along my garden paths to kill off the weeds below (it cut off their light). I’ve considered using mulch this year but was going to buy something to use like plastic or bark however, weeds are a source of nutrients (they’ve taken it from my soil after all) and reading this gives me the confidence to give it a try properly.

    Ta! James

    • Weeds are definitely a source of nutrients 🙂 The deep roots from dandelions & burdock especially pull a lot from the earth.
      Happy gardening James, thanks for commenting!

  3. I’ve used weeds for mulch for the last 15+ years and the concerns that somehow this will increase weeds in the garden (from seeds in the mulch) are just unfounded. Yes a certain small amount of weeds will show up from last year’s mulch but adding a fresh layer of mulch/weed/cuttings on top of the seedlings suppresses these. Almost nothing makes it through. Continuous and heaving mulching with any soft organic matter had made a radical difference in the quality of my garden soil and health of my plants. All my neighbors know to leave me their grass clippings, weed cullings, leaves, what ever. I now return any organic matter to the soil with soft material used as a top mulch and heavier twigs/shrub/branch/wood dug in around the edges as an improvised “hugelkultur” border. The only things I don’t keep are the thorny plants. I make sure that plants that easily root are left at the top of the mulch to thoroughly dry out before they get to soil level.

  4. Hi. Hope you are well. I am new to gardening, I have 3 garden beds with many things growing. I did notice the soil does get a bit dry during summer.So I basically cut the grass and add it inbetween my plants to cover the soil?

    • Yes! You can place it around your crops green and it won’t take long to go yellow and then decompose. You can add grass clippings all summer so long as they haven’t gone to seed.

  5. We had many clumps of stinging nettles that were past best edible stages and flowering 4′ high -we cut em off at their bases oriented them and mulched up berry and garden rows-like 250lbs of nettles-today we harvest burrock tops and do same!

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