Newspaper Mulch: The Cheap Organic Weed Barrier

comments (7) March 29th, 2010

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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I love to have stacks and stacks of newspapers on hand for the garden.
Photo by Dave Crosby under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

I love to have stacks and stacks of newspapers on hand for the garden.


Photo by Dave Crosby under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

I can't  believe how handy newspaper is in the garden. I use it for bedding in my worm bins, as extra carbon for my compost pile, and as a weed barrier for my garden beds. In fact, newspaper is the perfect cheap organic weed barrier. By using layers of it between the plants in my perennial bed and vegetable garden, I can keep those weedy little heads from popping up by both smothering them and with-holding sunshine.

Another advantage to using a newspaper mulch (or any mulch for that matter) is that it holds moisture in the soil. Like magic, plant roots stay cool and watered and you save time and money by watering less. While I don't have a perfect formula for this technique, I'll tell you how I do it. I take about 6 layers of open newspaper and lay it flat in between the plants.

For some reason, there's very often a good breeze going right about the time that I'm trying to spread out the newspaper sheets. At this point, you could run around like a crazy person attempting to slap down the edges before they blow away (I'm not saying that I've done this). But, if you do want to keep your dignity, just wet down some of the paper with the hose.

Anyway, once the layers are all down, I just spread some compost or another organic mulch, or soil over the top of the newspaper. No one is the wiser and it stays free of weeds for weeks. In fact, I really only have to do this a couple of times a season. I don't mind this a bit because I know that the microbes and the macrobes in the soil have done their thing with the newspaper and composted it right into my garden bed. And I'm all about the compost.

posted in: weeds, mulch

Comments (7)

zsd writes: I had someone send me a get rid of weeds home spray.

add one gallon of vinegar
2 cups of epsom salts
1/4 cup of original dawn

put in a sprayer and apply to weeds by the next day they will be wilted and yellowing, I tried it and it work chemical free.
Posted: 5:33 pm on June 4th
Juliac4 writes: If you check with your local newspaper they sometimes give away small rolls of news print paper that does not have enough paper to run on the printing press. We put it down in the garden and covered with mulch easy to roll out and cut off can put several layers down.
Posted: 7:58 pm on July 4th
Grow2gether writes: I started using layers of newspapers years ago as a weed barrier during a large landscaping project around my house. It worked perfectly! I just want to caution readers to only use black and white printed newspaper. I was told those ads with colored ink might not be safe especially around vegetable garden plants.
Posted: 9:13 am on April 1st
wmrchilt writes: UNKNOWN FACT - The newspaper - ITSELF - contains MERCURY - anti-fungicides
-aka- "slimicides" - to stop the "slime molds" from creating holes in the paper -
as it goes through its production - a wet process - that encourages such growth of molds - BEST TO GET A HEAVY-METAL TOXICOLOGY TEST - ON ANY PAPER PRODUCT YOU INTEND TO USE - IN YOUR GARDEN - My information came from a Ph.D, M.D. pharmacologist - by personal communication. - Namaste' - Bill
Posted: 9:31 pm on February 4th
ZenTurkGardener writes: Bagged-up newspapers and other paper products can also be buried about 1-2 feet down as sponges in areas where water runs off during a rain. If you live in an arid place, this helps keep up your water table.
Posted: 11:00 pm on April 8th
Herandtheremom writes: I'm new and from Spokane, WA. I love this idea...I've used newspaper before but never thought about just laying it on the cover for weeds! Makes me more excited for this crazy spring we are having. Love your site!
Posted: 10:55 pm on April 2nd
ydavis writes: I have been using newspaper as weed barrier for at least 2 years now. It works great!
Posted: 2:50 pm on March 31st
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