How To Use Newspaper Under Mulch For Weed Control

We have all experienced that one day your garden seems fine and weeds are perfectly controlled and the next day, you have a look at your ground and find flowers or vegetables covered with hulking, big weeds. In the hot summer days, you do not like to break the back trying to hoe or pull all these weeds. No worries, here’s a solution using that gardeners can knock down all the weeds without many efforts. The best part is that this method does not involve chemicals, which could harm your plants and produce or cause health-related issues in your family. It is easy and cheap. Plus, there is no need to handpick those weeds, you can use some tips to use newspaper under mulch for preventing weeds naturally in your garden

All that you need is a lot of newspapers! Not lots of people read newspapers more, all thanks go to technology. It is true but if you do read them or if you have old newspapers, then you can use some tips to use newspaper under mulch for preventing weeds naturally in your garden. Along with newspapers, you just need materials like pine bark, straw, grass clippings, pine bark, etc. If you do not have access to any newspapers, visit a local library and look for newspapers they keep in the recycle bin. Once you have enough newspapers, you are all set to employ newspaper as weed barrier in your lovely garden.


Why Employ Newspapers in Your Garden?

Newspapers feature an incredible method for preventing weeds to grow in a garden. Now, you may be wondering why is it so? This is because newspapers are porous, which means they let water pass through them. They block light perfectly and are biodegradable. Now, why do these qualities matter? If gardeners put anything in their gardens, they like it to enable water and moisture to pass through. You know that a garden is continuously outside in the different elements. Sprinklers, humidity, rain, and snow all require to be enabled for draining from the soil’s top and go down into the garden soil’s lower layers.

And in case, you use a product in the garden that does not allow water to go through, it is really bad. It could kill the plants with so much moisture. If the sunlight does not reach the soil, then your weed seeds would not grow effortlessly. So that’s the reason why you need a light-blocking agent for preventing your weeds, which could act as landscape fabric. When newspapers biodegrade under mulch, they will put nutrients into the garden soil. This could be amazing as you are producing better soil that could smother weeds in a natural way.

Are Newspapers Safe in Your Garden?

newspaper under mulch

Newspapers have modified a lot over the years. Earlier, newspapers were just plain papers and did not have toxic dyes. Nowadays, newspapers come in a vibrant range of colors. They are slicker and feature glossy ads. Also, the paper quality is altogether different. However, newspapers employ soy-based dyes and colors these days. So, newspapers are safe for use in your garden.

One can give it a thought. If you are worried about employing the dyes and newspapers in a garden, then have you ever thought about the potential leaching chemicals and plastics from a landscape fabric? Or ever of the dyes pulling off of the dyed mulch? No! Newspapers are still a perfect way to prevent the weeds naturally. Just remember to use the actual pages of the newspaper. You should avoid coupons, advertising inserts, and glossy sales advertisements.

And while you are thinking about the safety of using newspapers in a garden, particularly vegetable gardens, consider if employing a newspaper weed barrier will stop you from employing chemical products or weed killers or not.

When you line the garden beds with lots of newspapers, the weeds will greatly reduce. Plus, you do not need to spray weed killers in the garden. In that case, you are dramatically reducing the chemical load in your garden by not opting for toxic products.

How To Employ Newspaper Weed Barrier

Here, you will learn how to use the newspaper to kill weeds for your home garden. Firstly, you just do not lay newspapers on your garden and move away. This would not just look bad but also the newspapers will be going to fly away soon. Thus, it is a bit difficult to employ newspapers in a garden without incorporating mulch. So, it is important that you keep certain points in mind while using newspaper for weed control in the garden.

Employing Newspaper Under Mulch

  • Firstly, prepare the garden bed the same as you prepare before laying down mulch.
  • Eliminate any weeds that you come across. This is not actually necessary as newspapers are going to smother weeds. However, weeds can leave behind seeds that may sprout next year in the uncovered soil.
  • Keep the plants already in the ground. In this way, you can put newspapers around them.
  • Think of putting a shredded leaf mulch layer on the ground soil for decomposing under the papers.
  • Begin laying out the pieces or layers of newspaper.
  • In the end, you have to overlap newspapers, while ensuring that there remain no gaps between the sheets of newspaper.
  • Employ landscape staples for keeping the sheets down if you want.
  • In your garden, lay down the paper up to the plants’ root system. Keep these papers around 1-2 inches away from the plants’ stems.
  • While you work, you can water the papers so that they stay down.
  • Put your favored mulch on the newspaper’s top.
  • Lastly, water thoroughly.

This job would take one to some hours, based on your garden size. One great thing about newspaper mulch is that when the mulch is on the top of the newspapers, your garden looks extremely clean and tiny. Plus, it is going to stay the same for months. Watch this video to see how to use newspaper as weed barrier.

On certain occasions, tough perennial weeds may poke through the newspaper under mulch. However, when and if this happens, move papers out of your way a bit and dig out these weeds. Now, cover that space with a piece of newspaper and put on the mulch again. This newspaper under mulch will not just keep down the weeds, but it will even fertilize your soil, cool down the plants’ roots in hot summer days, add organic components to the garden soil, and conserve water. At the same time, earthworms will remain active underneath this mulch, while tilling your ground and putting in worm castings.

How Many Sheets of Newspaper Need for Killing Weeds?

So, how thick the newspaper layer needs to be for effectively smothering weeds! You need to lay down two or three pieces of newspaper on the garden soil for preventing the growth of weeds. This means there should be two newspaper sheets in total. Not two folded sheets of newspaper in half for a total of four newspaper pieces on top of one another.

The objective is to have an adequate thick newspaper layer for preventing sunlight to reach the ground soil, yet allowing water to pass through.

Use Newspaper as Landscape Fabric

Now, what’s the difference between putting up the newspaper on your garden bed and employing landscape fabric? Firstly, newspapers are free, which is a great bonus. Gardeners who like to save money on gardening can go for newspaper under mulch as landscape fabric. For getting newspapers for free, you can subscribe to a newspaper, request neighbors for used newspapers, scour recycle bins to pick them up, ask a library for picking up outdated newspapers, or other such means.

Newspaper is cost-effective than landscape fabric. The latter one costs a lot of money and plus, you have to buy lots of fabric staples for inserting on the garden bed. Meanwhile, landscape fabric lasts for a long period of time. But, weeds grow up more easily through the landscape fabric as compared to the newspaper.

Newspaper is biodegradable, which means that it will eventually fragment and decompose into the soil in a year or so. This is good for gardens that need to be replanted frequently. Employing newspaper in a garden bed is actually smart as you may alter the location next year and you would not like to dig up the whole landscape fabric the following year.


Gardeners can go for the newspaper under mulch to control weeds in a vegetable garden, where they do not like to put in lots of chemicals. In this case, it is best to opt for a natural way to prevent the growth of weeds. It is quite easier to move the plants’ position for crop rotation as you do not need to worry about shifting landscape fabric. Newspaper mulch act as a cost-effective method to kill weeds in your garden. If you still have queries regarding the newspaper weed barrier, ask the same in the comments.

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