For the past several years, I’ve been clipping leafy branchlets of autumn olive for direct use as green mulch in my vegetable garden. In essence, I clip the shoots into segments ranging from 4 to 10 inches long, gathering the freshly chopped mulch into a wheelbarrow. I like to emphasize the youngest and leafiest stems, but since I am also interested in reducing the exotic plant’s biomass, I also clip woody stems up to a half inch in diameter. I then place the coarse mulch, leaves, young stems, and chopped woody branchlets, around my vegetable plants. I install the fresh green mulch to a depth of 3 to 6 inches. This may sound excessive, but the green leaves quickly wilt, dry out, and shrivel to a fraction of their original size. Consequently, the mulch layer soon becomes a thin veneer over the soil surface. Sometimes I add a second layer if the first one shrivels to the extent of failing to cover the soil.

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Copyright © 2007 Virginia Native Plant Society. This article first appeared in Bulletin of the Virginia Native Plant Society 26:2 (2007), 5, 8.

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