How I Smother Weeds with Newspaper

May 7, 2013

WHEN WEEDS INVADE MY PERENNIAL BEDS, I don’t get mad — I get newspaper. Newspaper-mulching, as we have discussed before,  makes weeds disappear instantly.  And it prevents them from re-emerging for an entire season, if not longer. I newspaper-mulched one of my weed-choked beds just this morning. Would you like to see the easy procedure?

The bed in question is located between my Kitchen Garden and Woodland Garden.  As you can see, it is planted with young peonies, Baptisia, and some mighty expensive daylilies.

What’s that you say?

You can’t see the peonies? Or the Baptisia? Or the pricey daylilies?

That’s because the bed has been overrun with wild onion, garlic mustard, and other invasive growth.

Pulling these weeds would be a waste of time. For once the soil has been fiddled with (through the act of pulling weeds or digging up wild onion bulbs), more weedy things would be encouraged to sprout.

But plants can’t grow and seeds can’t sprout if  they are covered with a thick layer of The New York Times!

First, water the bed deeply. Then lay paper directly atop the weeds,  and in-between the ornamental plants.

This young, aristocratic Baptisia heaved a sigh of relief when I approached him with newsprint in hand. Said he: “No longer shall I endure the common, weedy riff-raff who steal my food and water.”

The trio of  ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ peonies were overjoyed, too. They can’t wait for you to sniff their fragrant pink blooms.

The daylilies practically shrieked their gratitude. Frankly, I felt embarrassed.

And by the way, water can permeate paper with ease.  The soil below will receive plentiful moisture whenever Nature — or my garden sprinkler — deems to provide it.

Back to our project. Spray the newspaper with water. Otherwise, a strong wind will blow, and send your papers flying.  Wet paper won’t budge.

And finally, top the paper with mulch. I mulched my bed with three inches of shredded leaves. Shredded wood chips make a fine mulch, too.

My ornamental plants are delighted with their new, weed-free environment. And I’m happy, too. For I won’t have to deal with weeds in this bed for at least one season. Another bed I mulched with newspaper remained weed-free for two years in a row.

And here’s another great benefit to newspaper mulching. As the paper decomposes, it (and also the shredded mulch) will provide abundant food for beneficial soil organisms. In fact, if you are cursed with crappy, inert soil, try the newspaper routine as described above. Within one year your earth will be teeming with worms and other soil-building friends. My previously-asphalt-paved Rose Garden will prove this to you.

I suspect some of you are wondering if you can use cardboard in place of newspaper. Yes, you can. I like newspaper because it can easily be manipulated to fit around plants.

You might also wonder if I’m afraid of the chemicals used in newspaper ink. No, I’m not. From most accounts I’ve read, today’s newspapers are printed with soy-based ink. Even the glossy pages are coated with a non-toxic material. I have no doubt that the air we breathe contains far worse chemicals than those found in newsprint and cardboard.

If you have a nasty weed-infestation in your own perennial bed, consider smothering the offenders with newspaper (or cardboard). I think you will find, as I have, that this arrangement will produce only positive results for you, your soil, and your plants.

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Related Posts:
The Power of Flowers Indoors
Chive Pesto
Creating a Raised Bed Garden


  1. Mary says:

    Hi Kevin–

    This is my favorite mulching method as well. Sometimes, in the vegetable garden, I’ll use straw on top of the papers, which gives a nice surface for squash vines to sprawl on. One trick I have, for days when it is too windy to spread the papers dry, is to put them in either the wheelbarrow or a joint compound bucket and soak them before spreading.

    I have had mixed success using this method for my worst pest–witch grass. I have had them spread their stolons several FEET, completely in the dark, along the layers of paper, and pop up on the far side, ready to continue trying to take over my little corner of Maine!. So now, I stop everything whenever I see a shoot of this implacable enemy and deal with it right away!

  2. Robert Meehan says:

    I’ve tried using cardboard and it will keep weeds down but working it in and around plants is a pain in the tush. Gonna try newspaper but living on the Eastern Shore of VA it’s gonna take a while to get enough newsprint. (no NY Times). Peonies are doing well already, tulips and other bulbs are about done. Roses are just about ready to bud and the lawn is already tryin’ to kill me. (we mow from early April to Nov or later) oy!

  3. Mary – Thanks for your tip regarding newspaper-soaking-in-a-wheelbarrow-tip. And I’m with you on (weed-free) straw-mulch for veggie beds.

    Robert – I obtain reams and reams of newspaper at my local recycling plant. It’s free, and I can choose thick Sunday-editions!

  4. Karin W. says:

    I wonder if it will also keep the nasty Bermuda grass out, which creeps into everything over here in Kansas.

  5. gloria says:

    I’ve been using this method for several years and love it. I have several medical problems that make it hard to pull weeds, so this is the perfect answer. As for the chemicals in the ink thing, I’ve heard it said that if you have to deliver a baby (yikes! I hope not) and don’t have anything clean to catch the baby in, to use newspaper. Hey, if it’s good enough for babies, fish and chip take-out, and parakeet cages, it’s good enough for me.
    New to your blog, really enjoy it.

  6. jeniren says:

    I have used this method for no dig gardening on grass. I was told to spread pelletised chicken manure over the grass, then cover it with wet newspaper. On top of that pace straw and mulch into which the plants are planted with a little soil around them. apparently the pelletised chicken manure causes the grass to grow madly under the newspaper in the dark so that it exhausts itself and dies. Seemed to work. Don’t know if it would have worked as well without the chicken manure. I also use fresh stable compost under and over the newspaper. Still learning about how effective it is.

  7. Suzanne says:

    I’m fighting black spot on my roses. In spite of cleaning the fallen, infected leaves and spraying with a fungicide I’m unable to get rid of it. Infected leaves still fall onto the ground in the rose garden. I suspect the black spot spores are living in the mulch/ cedar chips in the rose bed. My latest idea is to cover as much of the ground around the roses w/ newspapers, layer them with shredded bark from my arborist, and thus bury and kill off the black spot spores. Do you think this might work????

  8. Tammie says:

    As always Kevin you have the best ideas for natural gardening and the issues that befall those of us that choose not to poison our property and pets and ourselves with chemicals that would just make it worse in the long run anyhow. I will be doing this as soon as I can locate enough newspaper and cardboard as we have terrible clay soil and I fight the weeds constantly and its so time consuming that I have gotten frustrated and told my boyfriend that I was going to dig it all up and buy plastic flowers and cement GGRRR! You have renewed my hope Thanks once again You are a Gem !!

  9. Cosette says:

    I adore your humor Kevin. Been wanting to try this treatment. Soon the beds will be planted with gobs of little winter sown joys. It seamed like a lot of bother to work around the babies . . . . . but no more! I’ve been inspired.

  10. badger gardener says:

    Garlic mustard, ugh! I’ve been able to keep this at bay in my yard but have friends, including an adjacent neighbor ,who do battle every year w/ this invasive plant. Do you find the smothering effective at stopping its spread? I am definitely recommending this to the neighbor before its flowers come out as every year I’m waiting for a larger garlic mustard “attack” in my own yard.

    I hadn’t thought of doing this to prepare a new garden like jeniren mentioned above. I am finding this spring that I really need some more beds. I am out of room and after reading your post about growing leeks decided I have to make some new beds for next year.

  11. Elena says:

    I have a corner flower bed between the driveway and road that I’ve tried to ammend the soil for 5 years but everything I plant in there struggles. Just planted wintersown marigold seedlings and am trying the newspaper/mulch this year. I guess if an ex asphalt covered garden can turn out well then this will work for mine too. Thanks!

  12. badger gardener – Newspaper mulching has definitely stopped both garlic mustard and wild onions from sprouting in my beds.

    Elena – Probably this program will do wonders for your flower bed. First, your flowers won’t have to compete with weeds. Then the newspaper and shredded mulch will provide food for soil-building creatures.

  13. LAVON EBLEN says:

    Cardboard works great on a flat surface. We covered a large area of grass to create a new herb garden. The local appliance dealer was happy to give us boxes from refrigerators etc so it didn’t take very many. Be careful to overlap the edges. Grass is sneaky so finds a way out of every little opening. Covered the bed with mulch. It was amazing how fast the cardboard got soft enough to easily dig through to plant. Your site is one of the most fun as well as informative.

  14. Terri says:

    The only thing is, wild garlic pushes right through! Now I’m trying weighing it down.

  15. Hi Terri – If wild garlic or onion pushes through, you’re probably not laying the newspaper thickly enough. Choose a nice, fat section from your local Sunday edition!

  16. Just wanted to let you know that I look forward to receiving your email each Sunday. Love your blog :-)

  17. Sandy Hutchison says:

    Excellent method if the plants aren’t too crowded and you’re not too attached to the reseeded stuff (as I often am). Definitely my approach with all new beds. I just wish dandelions and orange hawkweed could be stopped this way. They always work their way back up and have to be attacked more viciously with vinegar and/or repeated beheading (when just pulling after a hard rain doesn’t work)..

  18. Terri says:

    ah, thanks!

  19. Warren Dahlstrom says:

    I’m a 75 year nube. Thanks for sharing your wealth of knowledge!

  20. Joann says:

    I’ve tried this method and it works great!! Thanks Kevin!!

  21. Kevin, do you think the newspaper method would suffocate horsetail which is such an invasive plant that we have here in Oregon. Runners spread out under the surface as much as 12 inches down from each above ground feathery shoot and it’s like trying to pull out ropes and of course they break the more you tug. The only thing we’ve had success with is serious chemical spray which I don’t like to use and cannot use near the vegetable garden which is a raised bed and they even pop up in there!

  22. Jeneta says:

    Oh this is fantastic!! I can’t wait to try it (I have just the garden bed!).

  23. Cindy says:

    Kevin, is there any reason not to use this method in vegetable beds? My tomato beds are full of weeds, and I was not looking forward to weeding before I add some nice straw mulch.

  24. Cindy – I use newspaper in my Herb Garden beds (pictures here). The paper tears very easily when it’s time to plant lettuce, parsley, and other seedlings.

  25. Mary Ann says:

    We practice lasagna gardening here, so we have a layer of paper… but I am going to start doing this on top of my perennial beds, especially the one I am still building. Great idea!

  26. I’ve been saving my daily newspaper for weeks now and have plenty….getting ready right now to head outdoors to the plant beds, wet them down and lay down the papers…can’t wait to get rid of the grass and weeds. Enjoy your column…keep up the good work and pictures.

  27. Dottie says:

    Thanks Kevin. I am disabled and have a difficult timegetting down and bending over. I think this is a great idea and am going out to try it now.

  28. merrykevin says:

    I just love you, Kevin. You make me smile. As we like to say here in OK, “I’m fixin’ to” try your groovy newspaper method!

  29. Susan in MI says:

    Late to the party (as usual) but newspaper with mulch on top has been a savior for me as well. I placed a “Wanted” post on my local FreeCycle lists and got more free newspaper than I had ever imagined. Took a grown child with me to help load the bonanza into the back of my SUV and that was that. It’s very easy to poke through 5-10 layers of wet newspaper with a trowel to plant an already started plant. before putting a couple of inches of mulch on top.

    For the beans and peas, I just poke enough to press in a seed, then mark the placement with a piece of wooden skewer to make sure I know where they are before laying the mulch.

  30. Jason says:

    I use pizza boxes, and junk mail to do this, too.

  31. Janet G. Metzger says:

    THANK YOU! I did not get the newspaper down BEFORE I built the raised beds. I thought I was lost This is a relief to know I can still put down newspapers. The step-by-step instructions including the watering (and cardboard, cereal boxes, AND junk mail) are necessary. Again,

  32. Naomi Shelton says:

    Well, dang! Too bad I didn’t read your post yesterday. I just spent this afternoon digging some stubborn dandelion and other nasty weeds out of the beds surrounding my deck and my back is killing me! Here’s the sad part: I have newspaper mulched before and know that it is effective. I just wanted to see that clean dirt around the plantings, but tomorrow I am going to lay down those pages and go buy some mulch to top them off so I don’t have to pull anymore intruders from that particular bed for the next year. Thanks for the reminder, Kevin. I look foreward to your posts each week. And you keep me on track with the gardening.

  33. Julie Piehn says:

    I read this tip last year and my husband and I tried it-he now tells everyone about it! Thank you Kevin for making life easier and better :)

  34. Gail says:

    Kevein. I’m going to try this. Would like to know how many “pages” in a section of newspaper would you recommend using. Thanks!!

  35. Gail says:

    One other question, please, how long does it take after doing this procedure can I start planting in the affected area again?

  36. Hi Gail – I recommend a thick layer of newspaper — at least 10 pages deep. You can plant in the bed immediately. A trowel (or just your fingers) will easily pierce damp newsprint.

  37. Ann says:


    I am interested if you have any natural ways to keep weeds out of my front walk way. I wish I could just put newspapers down and mulch on top but .. I guess the brick pavers then would be really unseen. I have used the vinegar and hot water methods and they work but are timely and I have to repeat it multiple times a year. I dont’ use pesticides on my grass and we really try not to get any grass clippings on the walkway when we mow. .I am looking for other CLEAN ideas that you or others might suggest.

    I think I will try this around my young evergreen trees that get lots of weeds around them.

    Thanks for all your posts .. I love all of them!!

  38. Robin Hamann says:

    Thanks for all the info on using newspaper to kill weeds. My raised beds are fine, but the area around them isn’t. I’m going to use this method to smother the weeds!

    Thanks for all the great info that you post. BTW, peonies are my favorite flower!

  39. Linda says:

    Please, please, please tell me that this would help smother a bed of invasive English ivy!
    I have my fingers crossed.

  40. hello Kevin
    need to know if I can use small rock instead of mulch on the paper. I actually have taken up the mulch as it always gets all over the concrete walks (even with rubber borders around the yard).
    this is my first time on here and Im really getting a lot of ideas. Will be a continued fan from now on.

  41. Sharon says:

    I get free weekly local newspapers and lately the Star Ledger has been dropping off a free Sunday paper to try to get subscribers. These’ll end up being used as weed block.

    For those that want to try cardboard, a good source of large sheets of cardboard is your local warehouse store (Costco, BJ’s, Sam’s). Last year in early spring, I was competing with another gardener to grab up all of the big sheets that seperate layers of product on the pallets. I now have a gorgeous wildflower garden on what was a steep grassy slope, and the cardboard has all but decomposed. The worms LOVE it and the newspaper.

  42. David says:

    We love receiving your weekly news letter and have given your site to many others. I sent you a question three or four weeks ago. I did not receive an answer and it hit me that you must get many each week. Do you address all the questions and responses you receive? Keep those great recipes and garden tips coming!

  43. Chris says:

    is rubber mulch a better product than regular mulch. I’m new at this a friend says she uses nothing but rubber mulch

  44. Rema says:

    Kevin, I love your blog. I am new to anything gardening..I plan to get rid of my front yard and make it natural..with plants and dry riverbeds etc. I am going to use tree stumps and driftwood to replace the horribly ugly bricks they previous owners had..

    here is my question. Can I put newspaper down and cover w/wood chips or mulch and rocks and plants etc.?? will that be enough to kill grass. I have heard/read so many suggestions but many exhausting. as to cardboard and straw and then mulch etc.. or can i spray vinegar all over my yard to kill grass and then put mulch over dead grass?? what would you do?

  45. Karen says:

    Kevin, you’re a genius — not to mention my garden hero!

  46. Gerry says:

    If I used this method on my asparagus beds in fall or early spring, do you think the asparagus would push through? I’ve had it lift carpet.

  47. Yolanda Robeson says:

    This works exceptionally well, however I would not use it in your vegetable garden if you want to maintain a strict organic garden. Soy ink, which is made from soybeans, are GMO. I do use plain newspaper from my local newspaper office. You can purchase the “end rolls” from them at a low price.

  48. Deb from Wisconsin, aka trillium says:

    We love this method and have shared it with so many friends. I used to think 4 sheets of newspaper was enough, but like your suggestion of using 10. While I don’t wet the newspaper before mulching and haven’t had problems with the paper shifting around, your method would ensure it and save time to boot. Thanks!

  49. Bobbi says:

    Thanks for the newspaper method, Kevin! Can’t wait to try it! You are always so very helpful. You’re a Garden Angel!!

  50. Hugo says:

    Hi, and thanks for sharing the info. I will indeed try this method. I do have a question though: Regarding your other post about using Vinagar (diluted) to kill weeds – Can I or should I spray and treat the newspaper or cardboard with the diluted vinagar as well to futher prevent the weeds from coming back? or would that be overkill?


  51. Hi Hugo – I’m afraid that spraying newspaper/cardboard with vinegar would not make any difference at all. The newspaper/cardboard should provide plenty of protection.

  52. Mary says:

    Knowing most of the soy here is GMO–would that make the soy ink a problem?

  53. michelle says:

    I enjoyed reading your tip about killing weeds with newspaper, but I don’t have mulch I have rocks in my garden. Do you have any tips for killing weeds in my garden? It seems the more I weed the more they grow!!!!

  54. Janice says:

    We’ve used newspapers topped with grass clippings in our veggie garden for years with great success. Started using vinegar for weeds & it’s great; kills in a matter of hours. I even use it, carefully, in my flower beds. I add some Dawn dish soap to the vinegar; heard it helps it cling to the leaves. Don’t know for sure if it’s necessary but it works. I’m going to put some vinegar in my watering can to kill the weeds in our gravel driveway….make sure to rinse out thoroughly, though.

  55. Victoria says:

    Hello Kevin

    First, I’d like to say that I LOVE your site and all the wonderful gardening information, pictures, and recipes! I’m making your Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Pie for Independence Day with my family, and I know it will be simply delicious on a hot Texas summer holiday!

    As far as your instructions for smothering weeds with newspaper, how many sheets thick do you lay it? I would imagine only one or two sheets thick would not be enough. I love this method and am eager to try it on some raised beds I have that continuously get all kinds of tenacious weeds, particularly nut sedge, which is very hard to get rid of.

    Thank you in advance, and I look forward to your reply and next weekly newsletter!


  56. cecily porter says:

    will use the newspaper idea in my flower beds immediately!! However, don’t think it’s suitable in veg gardens since the soy based ink will be GMO soy, and I grow organic veg. Will need to stick to my weed mulch – pull the weeds, lay them down on the soil:)

  57. I need to get rid of weeds where a wide, simple stone path is to go, so it needs to be a more permanent fix. I am going to try to kill them with vinegar, and then lay black plastic, and then mulch.
    But I am afraid the plastic will be slippery. Tried landscape cloth but weeds grew through it. Do you have a better idea?

  58. Jeff says:
  59. Hi Deborah – Regarding landscaping fabric, my experience was the same as yours. Weeds can grow right through the material. However, keep in mind that plastic will not permit drainage. Cardboard might be a better option.

    Hi Jeff – No need to cultivate the paper into the soil — ever. The paper will decompose after a season or two.

  60. LC Reiss says:

    For the side of my house between our neighbours, I use tar paper which controls the weeds remarkably well.

  61. Ava lansbery says:

    I use this method in my almost large day lily bed, I did not get it renewed this year and am now paying the price. Our little local paper is maybe a 10 pager on a good day….perfect for shingling around the plates. I don’t have enough even if I save them for a year, and the newspaper office sells huge bundles for 50 cents. I soak some in a 5 gallon bucket and apply them wet…really wet, then cover with shredded mulch…presto done. Don’t put too may in the bucket, they swell up big time, and you can’t get them out….ask me how I know?

  62. Tereese DeMetz says:

    Hi Kevin – I went on an extended vacation to Alaska and now my vegetable garden has 7 foot tall weeds, grass and you name it. The vinegar works good on the limestone walk ways around the garden (Thank You :) )but, not so good on the invasive Morning glory bushes the neighbor has that have taken over my covered walkways and I need to know what to do with the garden weeds. Should I cut everything down first, or just smash it all down with the cardboard. I have carpal tunnel and alot of hand action will definitely put me out of action for awhile and the weeds will just get bigger. What would you suggest? Just found your site a few days ago and your attention to detail is very much appreciated Kudos!

  63. Oscar Booth says:

    Well I finally found something the New York times is good for!

  64. Marti says:

    What a wonderful idea. Here in Berkeley we have a HORRIBLE time with oxalis in the late winter/early spring. It just covers the flower beds full till you can’t see the dirt. I’m going to try this next year and keep my fingers crossed it works on it!

  65. Cheryl says:

    Hi–I absolutely love using newspapers under wood chips to keep my gardens weed-free. I just put down section after section of newspaper (sections are often 8-10 sheets thick this way), drench all the newspaper with water and then spread wood chips over it all. I have to find a source for newspapers–I go through them way too fast. I am wondering about the use of junk mail. Can I use shredded paper if it’s been sorted to just be white paper?

  66. Karen says:

    Hi, Is it good to plant ground covers around shrubs or hostas? I’m wondering if they will choke out the plants when dense as they grow. Thank you for your help and great ideas. Looks like I will now be saving cardboard and newspapers.

  67. Sheryl says:

    Kevin, before I ask my questions, I just have to tell you that I stumbled onto your site googling natural remedies to kill weeds, and all I can say is WOW! I signed up instantly–and I’ve been enjoying your humor, wit, and great advice ever since!

    Questions: If I arrange newspaper around my bulbs while they’re in bloom, will they have any trouble blooming next year? Can ground covers and other spreading plants grow with all that paper around them?

    Thanks so much for helping me to be a better-informed gardener!

  68. rossinhawaii says:

    I have a stepping stone path that runs down the side of the house and through the back yard. The weeding was killing me and someone mentioned newspaper. A quick internet search found your website. Instead of cutting it to fit around the stones I put it into my cross-cut shredder and dumped many loads of the shredded paper directly in the path. I would dump a load on each stone and then wet the whole thing down, washing the shredded paper off the stones and it “fit” itself. After several dozen loads (the paper is about 2″ thick) I am finally weed free! I put some wood mulch on the top and I think I’m good for a few years. The shredder has earned its keep. We shred the paper daily put it into our compost piles. Works very well.

  69. Debbie says:

    I just wonder, because 99% of soy is now GMO if the newspapers will affect the ground in way not as wonderful as we’d like it to do.

  70. Kathy says:

    I’m hoping this will work on poison ivy, our flower bed in front of the house has become overrun with it. I’ve hoed, pulled it out and sprayed it with poison ivy killer and it’s still flourishing. I’m going to put a laying of newspaper down now in December and then another layer in the Spring before topping it with wood chips. The Hostas planted along the walkway are the only plants that haven’t been over taken by the poison ivy so it would be so nice to see flowers there again.

  71. Judy Gierke says:

    Thank you for this suggestion, I’m brand “new” to this gardening stuff! But determined!! Thank you Kevin.

  72. Cynna says:

    This trick works so well!
    I have a non-weed related question. Is it too late to plant tulip bulbs? I completely spaced! I live in SE Pennsylvania. Thanks!

  73. Chuck says:


  74. Hi Cynna – If your soil isn’t frozen (like mine!), you can plant tulip bulbs now, in mid-January. Just don’t expect them to bloom this spring. Tulips (and all other Dutch bulbs) need approximately 12 weeks of cold in order to flower.

  75. Donna says:


    Do you think this method would work in a (central) Florida garden?

  76. Hi Donna – I should think that newspaper mulching would be terrific for your central Florida garden. You probably won’t have to water as often, since the soil beneath the paper tends to stay moist for a considerably long period.

  77. LynnB says:

    To those poor posters suffering from ivy invasion – I empathise. When we moved to this house 7 years ago all the front yard and half the back was covered with ivy. Much digging, chopping and I’m afraid to say, poisoning and finally this year we are an ivy-free zone. We had some that had trunks up to 6 inches in diameter – I’d saw the trunk then put neat glyphosate on the stump. That worked! But I’d love to hear any non-toxic ways of dealing with ivy.

  78. Justice says:

    We have a terrible time trying to kill earwigs. We have so many I have to go out at night with a swatter and flashlight and I end up killing about a hundred a night. Will the newspaper provide them with a good place to hide? I’m thinking that they will hide under there and I won’t be able to control them from eating my non-gmo veggie garden to stubs. Do you have any ideas about the earwigs?. We have tried everything, the tin cans filled with oil, Vinegar and water in a sprayer and a few other non-destructive ways that won’t affect the purity of the plants.

  79. Dollybelle says:

    Kevin, I’m out in the garden right now and have a ton of newspapers to put out but am wondering if they will keep the new daffodils and crown imperials from coming up this spring? Do you think I should not put the newspaper down in those areas? Weeds are everywhere! One of the first 60 deg days I’ve had to get out there and get something done! Thanks!!!!

  80. Wendy says:

    Is there any way to get rid of Bermuda grass? Won’t it just grow under the newspaper or cardboard and pop out where it’s not covered?

  81. Rory says:

    Hi Kevin
    Wonder if you can help me….I’ve acquired a neglected potted red acer plant. It’s very well established but it has a couple of really big thick stemmed weeds entwined with it’s toys, neutering right up close to the stem/trunk of the acer. Said trunk/stem is approx an inch thick to give you an idea of the size of the acer plant. I’m not sure smothering would work given that the weed is so close to the stemfof the acer and also given that the weed is also very well established, it itself has a stem approx 1cm in diameter with a woody quality….. any ideas? It’s a beautiful plant and it’s a beautiful shape, I’m desperate to save it….. many thanks in advance :-)

  82. Rory says:

    Ahhhh auto complete! Roots not toys and sitting not neutered! :-)

  83. Hey Rory,
    on your question, ” I’m not sure smothering would work given that the weed is so close to the stemfof the acer and also given that the weed is also very well established, it itself has a stem approx 1cm in diameter with a woody quality….. any ideas? It’s a beautiful plant and it’s a beautiful shape, I’m desperate to save it”

    Have you tried mixing up a weed killer, can be a nice strong mix of (vinegar with a bit of molasses to help it stick) or something from the store, Just take an artists paint brush and brush some of the leaves to the unwanted plant with it, or you can drill a hole into the unwanted plant and use an eyedropper to put a bit into the wound maybe?

  84. Connie says:

    Thank you Kevin for posting this. Clearly explained and easy to do. THANKS!!

  85. Austin says:

    Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I
    came to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information.
    I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Exceptional blog and fantastic design.

  86. Kathie Light says:

    Will this work to rid red bud seedings? Had them removed ~4 years ago, but they keep sprouting. I’ve tried everything possible that I thought would help but they keep popping up every year. If I catch them soon enough I can pull them up but they are a real problem every year. Quite prolific. I STRONGLY recommend NEVER planting them. They are pretty in bloom but a pain in the rear for a long time after removal. The seedlings get wedged in the rock and viola! new shoots every friggin year. Gr-r-r-r-r-r-r

  87. Carole says:

    We are going to try this in our vegetable garden! (cardboard, and then straw on top) Do we need to do this around EVERY plant in the row…or can we just do it on the rows (this will make a nice path for walking on as well, when the garden is muddy or soft!

  88. Liz says:

    Thank you for the information. I have heard about using newspapers but nobody seemed to be able to tell me how to do it properly. I have a large area of my front yard that, for years wouldn’t grow anything. Now there are, at least, weeds starting to come up. I think I will try the cardboard on that area and see what happens.

  89. Susana says:

    Does this method will work to kill the grass that is spreading into my vegetable garden??

  90. Alma says:

    Kevin, I would love to try the newspaper method, but instead of mulch, I have pebbles around my plants and flowers… What would you recommend? Thank you.

  91. Maria says:

    How would you recommend getting rid of weeds that are growing in rock beds? I dont want to kill plants or shrubs. I cant use newspaper as it would dissolve on top of rocks. I have tried to pull them out but they come back. So tired of them. Thanks

  92. Jaynee says:

    I’ve been contemplating using newspaper and cardboard in my backyard. My trouble weeds are: English ivy, poison ivy, wild strawberry vines. Will newspaper and/or cardboard be enough to stop those in their tracks? We have strawberry vine up against our house foundation and I’m thinking about attempting to put 6-7 layers of newspaper over it, tucked between the foundation and the dirt to create a barrier so it can’t come up there anymore. Then cover the newspaper with mulch. Will that work, do you think?

  93. Kathleen says:

    How long will I need to wait to start planting a garden if I use this method for weed prevention? I have a nice plot but lots of weeds and I’d like to plant within a couple weeks?

  94. Alyssia says:

    Does this newspaper have any affect on plants spreading? I’ve got quite a few that I want to spread out but I’m afraid the newspaper will stop this. Also, if I cover spots that have tulip bulbs and other bulbs as well, would my bulbs have trouble coming up next spring? Is it best to not cover any spot that has a bulb that’s not ready for bloom yet? Thanks for any replies.

  95. Ray Hosler says:

    I tried newspaper under a layer of wood chip. The crows went after the newspaper day after day. I finally gave up and removed it.

  96. Pam Scott says:

    Curious if shredded paperwork and bills would work?

  97. Judy says:

    I find the questions are questions I might like answers to but most times I do not see any answers.

  98. Judy says:

    This is an interesting website. The only problem I have with it is some of the questions I see are questions I would like to have answers for but I do not see any answers.

  99. Annis says:

    Superb post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this
    topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Appreciate it!

  100. Lawerence says:

    Hello to every single one, it’s really a nice for me to visit this website, it includes useful Information.

  101. Anne Marie Harm says:


    I appreciate the details… I’m wondering what you do then (after the first season or two), when the weeds may have worked their way up from the soil and mulch to find their way back to sunshine?


  102. Hi Anne Marie – When the paper finally decomposes (after a year, or sometimes two years), I simply re-paper the bed.

  103. My partner and I stumbled over here coming from a different website and thought
    I should check things out. I like what I
    see so i am just following you. Look forward to looking at your web page for
    a second time.

  104. Weeds have taken over says:

    I live in hot and dry So Cal – I did this with newspaper and topped over with cedar chips.
    It did NOT work well as after a couple days the weeds poked through the paper or found its way between them. Then worse yet when pulling the weeds would bring up the paper also. A major eye sore and pain. The only system we can use is pulling the darn weeds out one by one.

  105. katzen says:

    Are there Gmo’s in the ink .Not good in an Organic garden. I haven’t seen you comment on this?

  106. katzan says:

    I live in a suburb of Chicago. All summer I pulled weeds in my garden so when I read your newspaper idea I thought I’d try it before the cold weather, so I’d be ready for spring.Spent most of yesterday laying down wall to wall newspaper 10 sheets thick ,then I soaked it and put mulched leaves on top & soaked it again.
    This morning my yard was a MESS! The wind blew the leaves & wet newspaper all over the yard. I will never listen to what people write in these blogs again.I’m near 70 yrs old & now I”ll spend hours cleaning up this mess. “Wet paper won’t budge” NOT TRUE! The gusts of wind blew the wet leaves & paper all over. Thanks guys for all this trouble!

  107. Warren says:

    Hi Kevin

    I live in Ontario Canada and have moved into a house that the gardens are over run with weeds some as tall as 4 -5 feet last spring I pulled them out but they have all returned do you think this methed of cardboard ( which I can get plenty of ) will work to get reid of them?


  108. Taylor says:

    Hi Kevin, I just want you to know that I tried this idea and it was a disaster.

    The newspaper was on the ground for only about 4-5 weeks and it caused mice to come and hide under it. We have a brand new house just built in 2013 and we had not had any critters in or around our house. We had to hire some help to get all of the newspaper and mulch removed away from the yard and house as quickly as possible. I will not do this again. I had no idea that newspaper attracted those little gray mice-lots of them. We had to put several repellents inside the house just to be proactive and we put a yard repellent outside to keep them away. I’m glad this worked for you with no problem, but i will not be trying it again. Good luck to those of you whom it this idea does work for.

  109. Tarifin says:

    Great tip I did this to my entire front lawn to start new flower beds thanks! love it

  110. Myrna says:

    Grass, etc was up to the skirting all around my house. Couldn’t mow that close and wanted flowers. So I used cardboard all around my house last year. Topped it with shredded leaves and grass clippings. Getting ready to plant soon. Only problem was dandelions that came right through the cardboard so will have to dig separately.

    Also wanted to plant tomatoes last year so lay down cardboard and clippings and then poked holes through to plant the tomatoes. Worked great.

    Now that the weeds and grass are under control I can use newspaper to continue that control.

  111. Christy says:

    I couldn’t help but giggle when you wrote “But plants can’t grow and seeds can’t sprout if they are covered with a thick layer of The New York Times!” I find the same applies to my brain when I read it!

  112. marion says:

    hi I am going to try the new paper or card board to get ridge of weeds but the black spots that appear on the leaves of my blackeye susan and corn flowers this has been going on now for years I have spray them with a fungus pesticide do you think I should get ridge of the soil and start all new plants and soil I need help thanks marion

  113. Christina says:

    I work in an office and have an abundance of scratch printing paper. Could I use this instead?


  1. [...] There are plenty of benefits to using newspaper and junk mail as your mulch. The paper blocks the sunlight, not allowing any photosynthesis to take place. What the paper does allow, however, is the penetration of water, meaning no other organisms are compromised in the use of newspaper as mulch. In fact, worms will consume the decomposing paper and in turn feed the soil with nutrient-rich waste. The best way to use newspaper and junk mail, is to spread them piece-by-piece, side-by-side over your garden. Spray down the freshly laid paper to hold it in place, then cover it with top soil or wood chips, whichever you desire in your garden. Here’s a little more detail, a step-by-step blog post from A Garden for the House by Kevin Lee Jacobs. [...]

  2. [...] There are plenty of benefits to using newspaper and junk mail as your mulch. The paper blocks the sunlight, not allowing any photosynthesis to take place. What the paper does allow, however, is the penetration of water, meaning no other organisms are compromised in the use of newspaper as mulch. In fact, worms will consume the decomposing paper and in turn feed the soil with nutrient-rich waste. The best way to use newspaper and junk mail, is to spread them piece-by-piece, side-by-side over your garden. Spray down the freshly laid paper to hold it in place, then cover it with top soil or wood chips, whichever you desire in your garden. Here’s a little more detail, a step-by-step blog post from A Garden for the House by Kevin Lee Jacobs. [...]

  3. [...] drainage ditches of debris to ensure proper spring runoff. Cover the garden with fabric, a tarp, or sheets of newspaper to discourage weed growth prior to [...]

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