“Turning Old Sweaters Into Mulch”

“Turning Old Sweaters Into Mulch”

Old sweaters that are worn out or have holes can be given new life as mulch for your garden. This sustainable way to reuse old clothing has many benefits for your lawn and garden.

Gathering Sweaters to Recycle

I like to save my old sweaters over the fall and winter to recycle in the spring. Any type of knitted sweater will work, including wool, cotton, synthetic blends, etc.

  • Sources of old sweaters:

  • My own worn out or damaged sweaters

  • Thrift stores often have inexpensive used sweaters
  • Friends and family may have sweaters to donate

  • Ideal sweaters to reuse as mulch:

  • 100% natural fibers like wool, cotton, silk – these break down best

  • Holes, stains, shrinkage, and other damage is perfectly fine
  • Old Christmas or holiday sweaters are fun colors and prints

  • I collect at least 5-10 sweaters to produce enough mulch for my small yard. The more you can gather, the better.

Preparing the Sweaters

Before turning sweaters into mulch, they need to be cut or torn into smaller pieces:

  • Cutting tools: Scissors, rotary cutter, shears, or knife
  • How small? Strips, shredded pieces, 1-3 inches max size
  • Key tips
  • Remove any buttons, zippers, or other decor first
  • Acrylic/synthetic sweaters don’t break down well – cut into smallest pieces

This pre-cutting makes the sweaters easier to work with for mulching and improves the breakdown process.

Mulching Process

I like to use a chipper-shredder machine to produce my sweater mulch. But you can also mulch sweaters by hand.

Mulching with a Chipper-Shredder

Chipper-shredders are powered gardening tools that shred and cut up debris fed into the machine.

  • Benefits
  • Fast, easy mulching process
  • Produces fine, uniform mulch pieces
  • Tips for chipping sweaters
  • Feed a few sweater pieces at a time
  • Avoid overloading the machine
  • Cut sweaters into smaller pieces first

Hand-Mulching Sweaters

For a manual approach, sweaters can be mulched using:

  • Lawn mower – place sweater pieces over lawn and mow over them
  • String trimmer – place sweaters under trimmer head and turn on
  • By hand – tear sweater strips into tiny pieces

Hand-mulching takes more physical effort but still gets the job done.

Using Sweater Mulch in Your Garden

The recycled sweater mulch is now ready to use around plants and in your yard.

  • Spread 1-3 inches deep around plants, trees, flower beds
  • Can also use under playgrounds, paths, pet areas
  • Apply annually or as needed to suppress weeds

Benefits of sweater mulch:

  • Biodegradable and eco-friendly
  • Provides all the benefits of organic mulch
  • Retains soil moisture and nutrients
  • Suppresses weed growth
  • Insulates soil temperature
  • Boosts helpful microorganisms
  • Fun colors and prints can brighten up the garden

Recycling old sweaters into mulch is a creative way to reuse worn-out clothing. The process is simple enough for any DIYer to try at home. And sweater mulch creates a vibrant, eco-friendly groundcover that plants will love.