Newspaper and mulch weed barrior

gratefulgardener3300March 29, 2008

I just weeded my garden and threw a few inches of compost on the top, getting her ready for some planting. I had a hell of time with the weeding last year so I thought I could use newspaper for the barrior. My plan is to layer about 6 to 10 pieces of wet newspaper cut some Xs in it to put the plants and mulch it over. Will this work? and what do I want to mulch it with? I know there ar tons of mulches and all will probably work but I want to know what you think would be my best option.

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You can cover those papers with shredded leaves, grass clippings, straw, or most anything else organic, anything that was a once living plant that has not been heavily processed.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 6:47AM
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To reclaim a really weedy area last year, I layered newspapers and cardboard with pulled weeds, leaving only enough open area to plant. All of the mulch layers decomposed by the end of summer.

I still have to plant defensively when it comes to weeds (the garden was allowed to go weedy for 3 seasons). When direct seeding, I put strips of wet newspapers down the rows, within an inch of the seeded furrow. Thin layers of grass clippings hide the newspapers and double the weed suppression. If they're not quite rotted when the veggie is finished, I rake up the paper tidbits and throw them in the main compost heap.

Here is a link that might be useful: my website

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 9:05AM
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If I'm putting out seedlings, I plant first and then snuggle my newspaper (I lay dry paper---6-7 sheets thick) up to the stems of the seedling. You can make holes like you're planning, but it's a little harder to plant the plant through paper. With direct seeding, I either plant first and then lay my paper as the seeds come up or I do as bcomplx does---leave room for them to come up. When the seeds do come up, you can snuggle your paper right up to their stems, by tugging it a little.

I have access to seaweed, so I use that for weight, and for pretty, I use either hay or chipped leaves. I pretty much leave the mulch in place and repeat the process the next spring on top of what remains. My paper often survives a season. If I want a row where there's old paper, I have to remove that, of course.

You're going to love using newspaper. It's somewhat tedious laying down, but when your neighbors are weeding this summer, you'll be doing nothing but drinking Margaritas and harvesting.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 10:00AM
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Sweet! Your replies made me very happy. I'm looking forward to a weed-free (fingers crossed) garden this year and I love the idea of spending that time getting ripped on Margaritas and maybe practicing some Mexican slang I picked up a few years ago.

I do have a follow up question... Is there a difference in watering? I mean will the newspaper allow less water to get to the roots than a newspaperless garden and force me to water more heavily?

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 8:55PM
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katielovesdogs(z5b/6a Indiana)

I would sprinkle some corn gluten on the top. It's a natural weed inhibiter and it isn't toxic for animals and plants.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2008 at 10:25PM
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I've not seen that watering problem happen. What I have seen is that the soil under the newspaper retains moisture better and is evenly moist. Since the soil does not dry out the plants can uptake necessary nutrients when they want to, not just when I water, so they grow better.

There is no real good reason to sprinkle Corn Gluten Meal on top of this mulch.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 6:41AM
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Ditto about the corn gluten. You won't have any weeds to inhibit.

Most mulches hold moisture in the soil, but newspaper is fabulous for it. The other significant change you will see under the newspaper---besides damp soil---will be all the new earthworms who'll find your place the best in the neighborhood.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 9:21AM
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This system works fairly well. I have gotten away with using just as little as a few sheets thick of newspaper. Any organic matter can work to hold down the newspaper. I tend to use wood chips because that's what I have handyand they have enough heft that they don't blow away. You might want to have some sticks with you to hold down the newspaper against any sudden wind while you put your mulch on top. I follow Annpat's system instead of cutting holes in the newspaper. I leave a tiny bit of room between the newspaper edges and the plant stems. You can also cut or rip the newspaper so that it is sort of "slotted" to allow it to be placed right around the stem which means there is only one seam to cover around the stem insted of three or four. Once everything is in place, a very light watering will help to keep everything from blowing around too much but even that is not always necessary. As long as the newspaper is not too thick it should not be a problem with watering. The newspaper is porous enough to let the water through. The mulch on top of the newspaper also lets the water soak in more easily than watering directly onto uncovered newspaper and protects the newspaper from ripping too early on in the season.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 11:42AM
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I agree with everything that Bob says, including making slits in my paper and putting the plant stem in the slit.

The only thing I would disagree with is that thick newspaper might cause a problem. It doesn't for me, and, in fact, the thicker, the better in my situation here in Maine. Newspaper is very absorbent and the more you use, the longer it takes to dry out.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 1:37PM
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frugal_gary(alvin tx)

I agree.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 6:50PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

The soil moisture should not be a problem as long as it is FULLY MOIST when you lay down your newspaper and mulch.

Don't do what my sister did... she did everything on dry soil.

Making holes can be a bit tedious when you're mulching and planting at the same time. What I've done with success is to lay the newspaper almost up to the line where I will plant my seeds (peas, for instance). Then I plant my seeds alongside the edge of the newspaper. Then I lay more newspaper on the other side of the seeded line (even a two-row line, which is usually how I plant peas or pole beans). When I'm done, I've got a "slot" of bare soil edged with wet newspaper. Then I add a light mulch of grass clippings or dry straw that I've run through the shredder over the soil with the seeds, and heavier layers of mulch on top of the newspaper on either side. As the peas and beans grow, I push the heavier mulch up against the stems of the growing plants to keep the soil moist and shade the soil from the sun (or the weed seeds would sprout).

Don't worry about thick newspaper. I've used 6-ply CARDBOARD with great results. Let me tell you that it absolutely does outlast the weed roots!


    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 5:08AM
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does anyone use soaker hoses w/newspaper mulch?
under? over?
would it be difficult to know how much water is enough?

thanks for the insight.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 10:23AM
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Soaker hoses would be most effective if they were layed down before the newspaper, under the newspaper. Before covering those soaker hoses you need to know how much water flows in how much time and how much area that water covers, something anyone that uses soaker hoses should know. But you probably will find that you will use less water if your garden is properly mulched.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 7:39AM
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gardenman101(Z6 Spingfield, Ma)

Greatful, Go ahead and use paper, not only does it prevent weeds it keeps the soil cooler and moister during the summer months. I also add hay, leaves or grass clippings as avalible on top. You can make mulching staples to hold it down using old hangers cut to 6 inch lenghts and bent to form staples. You will get a few weeds, but becuase of the paper and mulch the soil will be loose, so pulling will be a breeze. I only have to water maybe 1 or 2 times every other week or so, depending on rain. Worms love the paper as well.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 7:39PM
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cyumickey(Sunset 18)

I just found this topic and want to do this as well. I'm planting tomatoes, eggplant, bush type summer squash, and some cukes and bush winter squash. I live where it can get very windy, though, and was wondering what would be good to put down over the newspaper. I can just see grass clippings and hay in my pool...

Also, can you deep water with this mulch? I like to bury clear plastic juice bottles with holes between my plants and water that way. I had to do it almost every day last year. I'd love to avoid this. Thanks!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 6:24PM
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