Skip to Content

Newspaper Mulch – Control Weeds and Help Your Soil

Did you know that forgetting to compost is a common vegetable garden mistake? Making newspaper mulch is simple and so beneficial so there is no reason for you to make this error.

Newspaper is a great product to use to control the weeds in your garden.  It is beneficial in both flower and vegetable gardening.

The newspaper adds a barrier that keeps weeds from growing. It retains moisture in the soil and adds organic material as it breaks down. The worms just love it!  

How to Make Newspaper Mulch

I love natural products that help with garden problems. Today we’ll be talking about using old newspapers.

Newspaper Mulch Adds to your Soil As It Degrades. There are lots of ways to use newspaper as a mulch to control weeds outdoors without using poisons.

  • Use it in garden paths. Use several sheets and be sure to overlap the newspaper so no dirt is showing through.   Water the newspaper and then cover it with a layer of mulch.   You will have weed free paths all summer long.
  • Want to make a garden bed but you have lawn sod there?  No problem.  Place the newspapers in thick layers.  Overlap it and wet it and cover it with organic matter such as grass clippings, weeds (without seeds) and even vegetable scraps.  The lawn will die off over a course of several months and the extra organic material will give you great soil when you get ready to plant in it.
  • You can make a few holes in your newspaper and plant with plants but don’t cover seeds, since they cannot push through.
  • On slopes, the mulch is more likely to slip down, so make the mulch layer over the newspaper thicker.

Please note that newspaper is high in carbon, so it could temporarily reduce the amount of nitrogen in the soil. This could affect new tender seedlings by making them turn a bit yellow. 

You can just add a spritz of organic fertilizer if this is the case.

While organic mulches and leaf mulch are great at keeping weeds at bay, they can also attract insects such as crickets and termites. Because of this it is important not to use it near the foundation of the home.

This included newspaper mulch and normal ground cover mulch.  I’ve never had a problem with it but have heard that it can be an issue.

Try to leave at least 6 inches of space between the mulch and your foundation. This space can be filled in with gravel or stones for a neater appearance.

Some people worry about the lead in newspapers.    This is not really a concern now.  It has been decades since most newspapers got the lead out. 

Also, the amount of hydrocarbons in colored ink is insignificant, so you can use glossy inserts too, although they will not break down as quickly.

Unlike landscape material which is not a natural material, the newspaper will completely break down in your soil, and it is so much less expensive, so give it a try!

Use newspapers as mulch.

If you want to treat weeds in your garden but don’t like using chemicals, try this vinegar weed killer.

Have you tried to control weeds with newspapers?  How did you make out?

Share on Social Media

Patricia Cole

Monday 8th of October 2018

I tried the newspaper and mulch, now I have a cricket farm and they are all over the place. I wish I had known this before, I would never have done it because now I have to fight the crickets off from my house, because there are so many of them.


Tuesday 9th of October 2018

Hi Patricia. I've never had a problem with newspaper mulch attracting anything other than earthworms (which are beneficial.) I will add a note to the post to warn others of your experience, though. Thanks for pointing it out. Carol


Wednesday 20th of January 2016

Does wet newspaper not encourage white ants


Friday 22nd of January 2016

Hi Margaret. I have not found this to be the case in my garden.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."