Every now and then we get a question about using newspapers in the garden. With an abundance of newspapers available in most major cities, it isn’t hard to save or collect enough to use in your garden.

We recommend you use newspaper primarily as a weed block in the garden, whether around existing shrubs, trees, and perennials, or on the garden paths to. Moisten first (we dunk whole sections in a large bucket of water) and use at least 6 layers thick to keep weeds from growing through for the season. Cover this up with the mulch of your choice (ex. straw or wood chips). You’ll find weeds will be much less of an issue compared to if you didn’t use the newspaper at all.

One area we don’t really recommend using newspaper is in the composter. While it won’t harm the compost process, it is high in carbon which is why some gardeners like to use it as a balance to the green materials they use. The main reason we don’t recommend newspaper in the garden is that there is little other nutrition that can be used to bolster the finished compost and imbue it with the great disease-preventing attributes most compost has. We recommend saving your fall leaves, shredding them up as fine as you can and use that as your brown materials as an alternative.

Cover Image by jannanab, used under its Creative Commons license.

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