I have a lot of flowerbeds at my house. Over the years I’ve gotten rid of some and added to others so it all balances out most likely. One of the biggest expenses with lots of flowerbeds is covering them in mulch. I do it not only because it’s visually appealing but because it’s a good way to snuff out weeds. Or is it? I don’t know about you but even though I mulch my beds every year I still get weeds. Experts say to add 3 – 4 inches of mulch to smother out weeds but that alone may not always work. What’s a plant loving weed hater supposed to do?
Let’s figure out what’s going on. Years ago I laid a good quality weed blocker down in my beds. While it worked for a time, eventually weeds started coming through and growing on top. Some of this was my fault. I’m one of those gardeners who’s never satisfied and wants to move plants for different reasons. Because of this, and the fact that when planting with the blocker initially, you have to cut it to make a hole in which to dig a hole in the ground that your plant will go into. Some of the leftover dirt stays on top of the blocker which gave weeds or grass something to grow on. Am I the only one who’s done this? On the bright side, the grass and weeds that grew on TOP of the blocker were very easy to remove. The stuff growing THROUGH it? Not so much.
Remember how I said I like to move my plants? Once you start digging plants out that are now woven into the blocker you end up taking chunks pf blocker out too, leaving unprotected soil underneath that weeds can migrate to.
So here’s what I do to help stop weeds from easily popping up for at least a full season while also allowing me to move plants without taking the dreaded weed blocker with it. Yes I still need to re-cover the area I’ve just dug up but this method is so much easier and inexpensive.
The secret is using your old newspaper.
The secret product is newspaper! If you already subscribe to your daily or weekly paper this is a great way to recycle it. If you don’t get the newspaper start asking friends to save theirs and take it off their hands. You may even find local stores willing to give you extras or leftovers. Get creative and try to think of ways to get your hands on some.
For best results the newspaper technique should be done the same time you are laying mulch for the first time in the Spring. Start with your bed cleared of all the dead leaves and stems from the Winter season. If possible, clip and prune plants before starting. Once you have everything cleared and clipped, grab your paper and start separating pages and sections. Sometimes I’ll use three/four layers and other times I’ll use more. I even started using the glossy adds a couple of years ago because I ran out of the regular paper. It still disintegrates eventually and works great where tougher weeds are problematic. Cover the entire bed overlapping and folding around plants spreading the mulch as you go to keep the paper from blowing around.
This has become my go to method for weed control over the last couple of years and it works well for me. Are there any other ways you control your weeds inexpensively and without chemicals? If so I’d love to hear from you. Until then, happy gardening!