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Newspapers as garden mulch?

One inexpensive way to inhibit the growth of weeds in your garden is with a newspaper mulch. Use it under a layer of a more attractive purchased mulch, such as fir bark: you can spread the bark thinner, and it conceals and anchors the paper.

For an impermeable paper mulch with an effect like that of a black plastic, overlap about six sheets of newspaper. Or apply shredded paper (to a thickness of at least 3 inches) so water can penetrate and trapped air can provide insulation.

Use only black-printed newsprint: black ink is a mixture of carbon and a carrying agent such as mineral oil and is not harmful to plants or soil. Like any organic material, newspaper ties up nitrogen as it decomposes, so apply a dose of nitrogen fertilizer to soil before laying down paper. To keep paper from blowing about, spray it with water as you work.

For a shredded-paper mulch, rip or cut newsprint into narrow strips, 1/2 to 1 inch thick.

When your mulch starts to break down in a year or so (longevity varies with the climate), you can till the newspaper into the soil and apply a new layer.
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1984
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