|Copies of a newspaper can have a second life in your garden as mulch or a weed barrier. Using newspaper as a mulch or weed barrier results in a cost savings. But it will take a lot of newspaper to cover an entire garden.
Newsprint (but not slick paper used in inserts or magazines) is a great tool for the garden, according to Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with the University of Missouri Extension.
“Even newsprint with color pictures is generally fine since most use biodegradable and water-soluble inks that won't harm the environment,” Byers said.
Whether a person is creating a new flower bed, a mulched area around a tree, or covering paths between rows in a vegetable garden, newspaper has all the great properties expected and wanted from organic mulches.
“When you lay newsprint out several (4 to 10) sheets thick and overlap one group of sheets onto the next, you create a weed barrier that will smother out many existing plants. It will also preserve moisture so you don't need to worry about watering as often,” Byers added.
Newsprint will dissolve in a few weeks or months, leaving behind no residual mess. If any needs to be removed, it can be shredded and added to a compost pile. If a gardener wants a nicer look, after laying down the newspaper, it may be covered with mulch.
For more information, contact the Master Gardener’s Hotline in Greene County, or University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Specialist Patrick Byers, at (417) 881-8909.