Extreme couponers know one of the best ways to score coupons is the newspaper. Many get multiple subscriptions. After reading the articles and clipping the coupons, a huge stack of paper is left. Well, the University of West Virginia found that shredded newspaper is one of the best forms of garden mulch. It smothers weeds, improves plant growth, increases yields and retains soil moisture. Old newspapers are biodegradable, so mulching them is environmentally friendly!

Most newspapers  use soybean-based ink rather than petroleum-based ink. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that newspaper poses no threat. The slick inserts, however, aren’t your best bet.

Prepare Newspaper

Rip the papers from top to bottom into 1- to 2-inch strips. For every 100 square feet of garden, you’ll need 25 to 50 pounds of shredded newspaper. The average weight of the Sunday New York Times is about four pounds.

When to Apply

Apply newspaper mulch only after the soil reaches a minimum temperature of 73 degrees F. Newspaper acts as insulator. Put it over cold soil and it will prevent the ground from warming up. Also wait until your plants are at least 5 inches tall.

How to Apply

  1. Apply fertilizer.
  2. Remove all weeds.
  3. Apply the newspaper mulch at a depth of 4 to 5 inches.  Do not cover seeds.
  4. Overlap mulch to block all sunlight to the ground. Keep the mulch at least 2 inches away from all plants and tree bases.
  5. Add a one-inch layer of grass clippings on top of your newspaper mulch to increase nitrogen levels and keep plants from yellowing. If your plants still look a little yellow, spray foliar fertilizer.