Leave clippings after mowing to feed the lawn as they decompose, or collect them to mulch the vegetable garden. To avoid hot spots from decay, spread clippings evenly, no more than 2 inches thick.
With its natural, woodsy color and tendency to knit together and stay in place, bark is both attractive and effective, especially around newly planted trees and shrubs.
If you have a pine tree in your yard, you will find plenty of fallen needles to use for mulch. They resist matting and are particularly good for acid-loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons.
Stockpile leaves in a back corner for a year-round supply of general-purpose mulch. To reduce matting, break them up first with a lawn mower or a shredder. Only a thin layer is needed in the spring.