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What’s The Best Way To Clean Leaves Out Of Mulch?

What’s The Best Way To Clean Leaves Out Of Mulch?

September is here, which can only mean one thing. Once the nights start getting a bit cooler, the trees in your backyard will unleash a hurricane of red, orange, and brown leaves.

You’ll do your best to contain them, and armed with your rake I’m sure you’ll get your yard taken care of. But if you’re here, you’re probably wondering what’s the best way to clean leaves out of mulch?

There’s an easy way, a really easy way, and a hard way. The equipment you have on hand will ultimately decide which way you get to choose.

How To Clean Leaves Out Of Mulch

As leaves and other debris are carried by the winds of Autumn, they inevitably have to land somewhere. When that “somewhere” is your mulch-bed, you have a couple of options on how to clean them out.

  1. You can deftly use a leaf-blower to eject them. (This is the easy way)
  2. You can clean them by hand. (This is the hard way)
  3. You can simply leave them be. (This is the really easy way)

How Do I Get Rid Of Leaves With A Leaf-Blower?

man with a leaf-blower
You might not have a leaf blower this heavy duty, but any leaf blower is better than nothing!

If you choose a leaf-blower to rid yourself of pesky leaves, there is typically an amount of trial and error involved. Storming out to your mulch-bed and simply pointing the tip of the leaf-blower in the general area as the leaves will not cut it in this case. Those leaves are in your mulch-bed in the first place because the wind has carried them. Adding more wind in the wrong way can simply group them further.

I recommend you set the leaf-blower to low and point the end downwards at a 25-35 degree angle. This will ensure the forced air won’t simply push the leaves into the air, where the wind can take them and gently place them back where they were.

This is an exercise in patience. Some leaves simply will not budge! In this case, you’ll need to pluck them out by hand.

You should immediately bag the leaves to avoid a gust of wind undoing all of your hard work.

Getting Leaves Out Of Rubber Mulch

If you have rubber mulch, using a leaf-blower may be a little trickier. It’s likely that there will be many more stuck pieces of mulch than in wood chip mulch. I would advise you do what you can with the leaf-blower (again, pointing downwards at a 25-35 degree angle).

However, expect to spend a bit more time picking smaller pieces out of the mulch-bed. It doesn’t help that rubber mulch is typically black. This contract causes brightly colored leaves to stick out like a sore thumb.

Is It Actually Worth Removing Leaves From Mulch?

You might be wondering by now if it’s actually worth removing fallen leaves from your mulch-bed. To be clear, if you have an absolute mound of dried leaves in your mulch-bed, you should definitely clean up as much as you can. Piles of leaves are fire hazards and it’s better to be safe than sorry. That being said, you might be willing to skip this chore.

If you can deal with the unsightly leaves for all of winter and you know the mulch will be removed or covered up anyway, there’s no reason you can’t let them hang out with your mulch until spring.

Should You Replace Mulch Every Year?

You should at least make sure you maintain the recommended 2 inches of mulch throughout your mulch-bed. If there are low-spots, fill them in. If the mulch has deteriorated, turn it and cover it with fresh mulch. If there are moldy patches, remove them and replace it. But no, you shouldn’t replace it every year.

When Should I Remove Mulch?

Menard’s recommends you should remove mulch when the mulch you have sits at over 3 inches thick. Ultimately it depends on how deep your mulch-bed is. However, I find that 3 inches is a pretty good rule of thumb. There’s no hard and fast rule so use your best judgement.

What To Do With The Leaves

We actually wrote a guide on the things you can do with fallen leaves — if you’re looking for ideas, I suggest checking out that article!

Did I Miss Something?

Do you use a different technique to remove leaves from your mulch? Share it in the comments and help out your fellow patio lovers!

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