The Q&A Archives: Using Newspaper As A Mulch

Question: I have heard that using newspaper as a mulch is beneficial for plants. When and how do I use newspaper to mulch my perennial garden? I have cut my plants down so that about 3 inches of plant show above the soil and have cleared all leaves and dead material out of the garden. I am waiting for the ground to harden before I mulch for the winter.

Answer: It is a good idea to leaves several inches of organic mulch in the garden year round, so you don't need to wait to get started. (The mulch "feeds" the soil as it decays and also helps suppress weeds, maintain soil moisture and moderate the soil temperature. Newspaper or cardboard work particularly well as weed suppressors because they block out light. They are also free if you recycle. ) When you mulch, do not mulch over top of visible crowns of plants -- mulch around them. A good time to apply mulch is when the soil is damp from recent rain. Use layers of newspaper about ten sheets or so thick. The paper is easier to lay out when damp, so soak in briefly in a bucket or wheelbarrow of water. Overlap the edges so there are no gaps between the paper, and top it with shredded bark or another more attractive material to help hold the paper in place and also look more decorative since it is a flower garden. Over time the paper and other mulch will decay and need to be renewed.

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