Organic mulch is one of the different types for use in your home vegetable garden. The cost can range from very expensive to very cheap. You want to stick to the cheapest, most natural solution possible. Using mulch can be one of the many strategies to save money when living frugal.

Types of Organic Mulch

Hay or Straw

Good annual weed control can be accomplished by using a 6 to 8 inch later of hay or straw. Both decompose quickly and must be replenished to keep weeds down. They improve the soil as they decompose and stay in place quite well. You want to avoid hay that is full of weed seed and brambles. Fresh legume hay such as alfalfa provides nitrogen to the soil as it decomposes.

Hay and straw are readily available in most rural areas but hay may not be as plentiful in the city. Straw can be purchased at most garden centers. Either are recommended whether you are growing vegetables or fruits in your garden.


A 2 inch layer of sawdust is an organic mulch that provides excellent weed control. Fresh sawdust contains a great deal of carbon and very little nitrogen and it's decomposition requires that microorganisms take nitrogen from the soil.

To start garden seeds, apply a very thin layer of sawdust (1/4 inch). The thin layer helps keep the moisture in. Sawdust is readily available from sawmills and your local Home Depot or Lowe's.

Pine Needles

Pine Straw bales are available at your local garden center for use as mulch. It makes an excellent mulch around shrubs, trees and any other areas where a long lasting solution is needed.

Peat Moss

A 3 inch layer of peat moss will provide fair weed control. Since peat tends to form a crust when used in layers to control weeds, it is very difficult to wet. Peat is not an inexpensive material and is best used for incorporating into the soil versus mulching.


Leaves will decompose quickly, are easy to obtain and will improve the soil once decomposition takes place. A 3 inch compacted layer of leaves provides good weed control. Leaves are a cheap and inexpensive. Definitely one of the better strategies to save money!!

***Leaves of a black walnut tree should not be used as mulch. Leaves of a black walnut tree contains a chemical that inhibits the growth of many plants.

Grass Clippings

A layer of grass clippings (no more than 2 inches thick) provides excellent weed control when used as an organic mulch. You will want to build up the layer over time, using dry grass. A thick layer of grass will give off heat and foul odors rather than decompose as other organic material. Avoid crabgrass as it is full of seed heads. Also, do not use clippings from lawns that have been treated with herbicide or a fertilizer/herbicide combination. Grass clippings are an excellent source of nitrogen in the compost pile, especially for the frugal gardener that prefers not to use manure.

Please share your advice for maintaining your garden and keeping costs low.

Do you have tips or advice you would like to share about maintaining your garden while keep costs low?

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