Using Newspaper in the Garden

There are a number of ways that this material can be useful in the garden, and enrich the soil. This guide is about using newspaper in the garden.

Newspaper in the Garden
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I use newspaper, at least double paged around my plants, then I put mulch on top. It helps to keep plant roots moist, all but eliminates weeds, and by the time the garden is to be tilled the next season, the newspaper has decomposed, and helps to enrich the soil. I simply rake my mulch back, till the soil, plant, place new newspaper, and replace mulch. Helps to save on the cost of mulch too!And a great way to recycle newspapers!

By Cheryl from Trinity, NC

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To eliminate weeding from garden vegetable rows, I began recycling old news papers. I place the newspapers in the between the vegetable rows (one sheet in thickness). I also tear the paper and place the paper around the plant stalk. I then place wheat straw on top of the paper to prevent the wind from blowing the paper away.

Irrigate and the straw gets wet and holds the paper between the rows. This also reduces the amount you have to water, because the paper straw combination reduces water evaporation. This prevents weeds and grass from consuming your vegetable plant nutrients.

Also after the season is over this material can be tilled into the soil for enhanced organic matter for the soil. Finally the straw allows for sand free vegetables. I have been doing this for over 20 years and it works just great.

By Grady from Fayetteville,NC

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I've been gardening, seems like forever. My best 'creation' was laying a soaker hose along the growing rows, then cover the garden with newspapers. They must be 8-10 sheets deep to keep out the weeds. During the winter, we count the weekly paper out and staple the corners to keep them separate. That gave me an idea. So now when I lay the papers in the garden, I staple them together. They don't fly around and 'repairs' are easy. Soaker Hoses and Newspaper

When it's planting time, I just cut the place I wish to plant and there ya go. These pics were taken a couple of years ago when we had very little rain. I ran the soakers very little and in August which was the worst here, I was even giving lettuce and mesculun mix to my neighbors. Soaker Hoses and Newspaper

In one pic I believe you can see the umbrella which I use along with a sheet to shade the lettuce area when it gets hot. My neighbor gave me rav compliments when I showed up with my 'extra' for her, and she had a very important dinner meeting for her husband's clients. They all asked where she had gotten such wonderful greens for the salad. That compliment alone made my year! Also? those newspapers compost down, just need some grass clippings to help. Easy way to do it all. Soaker Hoses and Newspaper

Feed the garden, save water, lessen the weeding, keeps your feet clean when it's muddy too!. Happy gardening!

By Kathy

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I am experimenting with what I would call "lasagna gardening". My boxes are 6' x 1' x 1', on wheels, with a chipboard bottom and made out of pine. Any recommendations on how thick of a newspaper layer I need? Should the paper go above or below the gravel layer?

Hardiness Zone: 6b

Sally from Bend, OR

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I have been using the "lasagna gardening" method in my raised beds for years. My beds are permanent landscape timbers 8'x4' two timbers high so they are approximately 8" deep.

Here's how I made the "lasagna garden" over the top of the ground:

1st Layer: folded newspapers heavily overlapped and hosed down so they are sopping wet.

2nd Layer: grass clippings

3rd Layer: compost

4th Layer: chopped dried leaves

(Occasionally, I've used a layer of newspapers as the top layer over the leaves only to prevent weeds. Using it on the top is unsightly and you have to leave plenty of room around the base or stem of the plants.)

Each year I add more compost to the top and haven't disturbed the layers in several years. I can dig into the bed with a shovel and by looking at the side of it can actually see the layers!

I plant veggies in this garden every year and the lasagna method is by far the most productive raised bed that I've ever had.

If you're using chipboard for the bottoms of your beds you might want to consider using some sort of plastic to protect the board before using the gravel. The gravel is for drainage? The chipboard may become too wet and rot away to quickly.

Perhaps you could think of your new box garden as just like a large plant pot. It may only need a drainage hole, then your plastic, then newspapers, then soil layers. The newspapers on the bottom will retain water. Figure a way for the water to collect underneath the drain hole.

I'm in GA zone 7. Good luck with your lasagna garden!


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We stocked up on the pellet-style cat litter that's made from recycled newspapers (see Then we realized we don't like it at all, so now we're stuck with most of a large bag and no use for it. Is it OK to use this stuff to mulch house plants and flower beds?

By Kelly from Dallas, TX

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That sounds like a great idea to me. Assuming, of course, that the only ingredient in the cat litter is newspaper.

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Newspapers: We use newspapers (minus the glossy/slick ads) in our garden as stepping stones. If you have a low spot that always gets muddy, you can put down a layered section. Water them and it stays in place. It helps to keep the weeds down too.

If you decide to plant something there after all, just pick up the pile, or better yet, slice a round hole in the paper, put the plant in the hole and leave the rest for mulch.

By Suzziee

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Fall and winter is the perfect time to prepare a space for a garden next spring. Put down a few layers of newspaper over the spot you want to use. This will keep the weeds down and rot any sod underneath. The newspaper will work as a weed barrier and will decompose to make soil.

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Home and Garden Gardening MiscellaneousJanuary 28, 2013
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