It’s time for paper mulch?! Not quite as glamorous as a bed of fresh flowers or a plump, juicy tomato, but so important when it comes to keeping your plants healthy and happy.
Now, you might be thinking, “paper in the garden? That sounds crazy!” But hear me out. Paper mulch is a fantastic way to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and add organic matter to your soil. And it’s not just any paper – we’re talking about newspaper or cardboard that you’ve probably got lying around the house anyway.
How To Use Paper Mulch – Step by Step
Step 1: Collect your paper. You’ll want to use plain, uncoated newspaper or cardboard – no glossy pages or plastic coatings. Shred the paper into small pieces or strips, or simply tear it into chunks. If you’re using cardboard, remove any tape or staples first.
Step 2: Lay down a layer of paper. You’ll want to lay down a layer of paper that’s about four to six sheets thick, or a single layer of cardboard. Make sure to overlap the edges of the paper or cardboard to prevent weeds from peeking through.
Step 3: Wet the paper. Use a hose or watering can to thoroughly wet the paper or cardboard. This will help it stay in place and start breaking down faster.
Step 4: Add other organic materials. If you’ve got compost or other organic materials, now is the time to add them. Spread a layer of compost or other organic material on top of the wet paper, then cover with another layer of wet paper.
Step 5: Cover the paper. To keep everything in place and help retain moisture, cover the paper with a layer of straw, leaves, or other organic material. Make sure to water everything thoroughly.
And that’s it! You’ve just created a fantastic bed for your plants to grow in. But what exactly are the benefits of using paper mulch?
Pros of Paper Mulch
Well, for starters, paper mulch is a fantastic way to suppress weeds. By covering the soil with paper, you’re preventing light from reaching any weed seeds that might be lurking below the surface. Without light, those weed seeds won’t be able to germinate, which means less weeding for you.
Paper mulch also helps retain moisture in the soil. By covering the soil with a layer of paper, you’re reducing evaporation and keeping the soil moist for longer. This is particularly important in hot, dry climates, where water can be scarce.
In addition, paper mulch helps build up organic matter in the soil. As the paper breaks down, it adds carbon to the soil, which helps improve soil structure and fertility. Plus, using paper mulch is a fantastic way to recycle and reuse materials that might otherwise go to waste.
When not to use Paper Mulch
But when shouldn’t you use paper mulch? Well, if you’ve got a heavy infestation of perennial weeds like bindweed or quackgrass, paper mulch might not be enough to keep them at bay. In those cases, you’ll want to use a more heavy-duty weed barrier, like landscape fabric.
And if you’re using paper mulch in an area where you plan to grow seeds directly in the soil, you’ll want to wait until the paper has completely broken down before planting. Otherwise, the paper could prevent your seeds from germinating.
So, there you have it. Paper mulch might not be the flashiest addition to your garden, but it’s a workhorse that can help keep your plants healthy and happy. And who knows, maybe your garden will be the talk of the town thanks to your trusty newspaper mulch.