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.
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
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
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.
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
I think put the paper on the gravel. If bottom is chipboard, do you have some kind of plastic covering it first because it will fall apart and it has stuff gluing it together you don't want to leach into your soil.
The person who "invented" lasagna gardening put the newspaper on the top of the soil to prevent weeds from growing. I'm not sure what you're doing with the gravel, but I'd say for sure the paper should go as the last layer. If you want, you can cover with woodchips or whatever you want to use to make it look pretty. Otherwise, I'd just use the paper.
I do this every year and have been doing so for many years, put as much newspaper as you have as thick as you can, it keeps the soil moist through the hot summer and keeps the freeze off the roots during the winter and keeps from filling the landfills.......You can do this every year.
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!
We stocked up on the pellet-style cat litter that's made from recycled newspapers (see http://www.yesterdaysnews.com/Products/CatLitter.aspx). 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
That sounds like a great idea to me. Assuming, of course, that the only ingredient in the cat litter is newspaper.
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.
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.