This post was updated in June, 2019. Want to eliminate weeds without endless pulling? Do what I do, and smother the weeds with newspaper. Newspaper, as we have discussed before, makes weeds instantly disappear. And it prevents them from re-emerging for an entire season, if not longer. I papered and mulched one of my weed-choked beds just this morning. Would you like to see the easy procedure?
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.
Applying the Paper
And by the way, water can permeate paper with ease. The soil below will receive moisture whenever Nature — or my garden sprinkler — deems to provide it.
Wetting the Paper
Mulching the Paper
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.
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). You will no doubt find, as I have, that this arrangement will produce only positive results for you, your soil, and your plants.