Newspaper under mulch

jim23July 26, 2006

I posted a message about landscape fabric but folks seemed to agree that newspaper under mulch was better. I have a few questions on this.

First how many layers of paper are used?

Second Are the daylilies planted first or the paper put down first?

Third Should all weeds be removed first or can paper be placed over them?

Fourth What types of weeds will this block? A creeping grass is one of my worst followed by a sedge type thing

Fifth Once down do you replace with more paper on top of mulch when remulching or is once enough?

Trying to gain control of weeding chore.

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Jim, About a month ago, I used newspaper in my daylily beds. This was my first time trying this method. So far, it seems to be working much better than mulching without newspaper. I'll try to answer your questions -

  1. I used about 20 pages at a time. (I had a BIG stack of newspapers and figured the thicker the better.)
    2. Most of my daylilies were already planted. I've added a few since laying the paper down and the shovel cut through the paper easily. The newspaper has already started to break down.
    3. I removed all weeds first.
    4. It seems to be working on most weeds in my yard. But I didn't lay it close to my lawn grass because my husband would've shredded it when edging the beds. The paper and mulch is back about 4 inches from the lawn.
    5. I'm sure I'll have to replace the newspaper the next time I mulch. It is breaking down faster than the cypress mulch I used in the back yard and faster than the pine straw in the front yard.

By the way, we used landscape fabric in most of our front beds. And we used rock on top of the fabric. This was all done over 4 years ago. It has done an excellent job keeping out the weeds. But these beds are planted with permanent plants - azaleas and sago palms, etc. I wouldn't try to plant a daylily or any other flowers in these beds because it would be too difficult to dig a hole. Plus, I never know when I might want to move a daylily to a different location.
Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 8:46PM
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usually 4 pages is what is recommended. However, there was recent discussion on the perennials forum. I'm mixed about this now.

1. all mulches in my experience have allowed for voles and other critters to live.

2. With only using 4 pages (2 sheets) I haven't seen it not break down, and it usually absorbes enough water and gets even more absorbant as it breaks down.

3. I prefer it to landscape cloth because it DOES break down...and pulling out landscape cloth from under 4" of broken down mulch isn't fun....which is what I had to do here as the former owners just kept on piling it on until the weeds were growing on top of the cloth.

so, while I give you the info....I'm not sure I agree with the professional opinion....unless I'm missing something...

Here is a link that might be useful: Chalker's Anti-newspaper mulch stance

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 9:11PM
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Wow, I sure hope that it is better with newspaper under the mulch. I have spent at least a couple of hours late each day doing just that. My supply of newspaper is limited and I have only been using one of the sections that comes apart naturally (of a small town paper) for thickness. I do not unfold it so there are several pages. My hubby had just cleaned the beds of weeds and I could not bare to sit here and watch the weeds take over again. Jim, you didn't ask but you did mention a problem with "creeping grass". Don't know where you are; I am in zone 8 with lots of bermuda grass and other lawn type grasses that take over very fast. I have been using the Fusilade II to control this. You may be familiar with it but you can just overspray the entire bed and it will not effect anything except a true grass. Does not work on sedges and certainly not "nut grass" which I believe is a sedge. I am plagued with that after getting some in a load of top soil. If any one has a good solution for nut grass I would be most happy. I have tried using a spray specifically for nut grass and you can not get it on any of your plants much like Round Up. The stuff does not ever phase my nut grass nor does Round Up.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 9:18PM
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michigoose - that was an interesting link - thanks for posting it. But even with 20 pages (10 sheets) the newspaper is breaking down fast in my yard. Also, I have scraped away the mulch and newspaper to check the soil and see if water was getting through and the soil was damp (We water 3-4 times a week). I'd agree with the article that using newspaper alone would be unsightly. I'm not sure about the pests yet...I'll have to watch that.

Jim - I forgot to add that I left a circle around each daylily clump. The soil is exposed in this circle - no mulch and no newspaper. I don't think you want any of the mulch laying against the crown of the plants (might cause rot).

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 10:13PM
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Susy(Zone 5/6 MO.)

I have used the newspaper mulch routine for several years with good results for keeping down weeds. I have noticed some daylilies not blooming as well and after reading an article by Bill Jarvis I have decided I need to dig and redo some beds.

Just something to keep in mind. He has a really nice, informative website with lots of nice pictures. The article is in the menu to the left on his site.

Here is a link that might be useful: Why did my daylilies stop blooming?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 8:49AM
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I forgot to say that I do use bark on top.... I too found it worked well for me in the past, which is why I am using it on the new beds here (poking holes in expanses of turf with clay soil underneath ISN'T fun). When I saw the article, I got very nervous....but then she does qualify it by saying for crops it won't work....but for properly tended landscape beds its fine...I guess that means we are properly tending our beds???? ;0

Putting mulch down and not raising the crowns of the plants over several years time will cause problems, but then I like to lift mine every 5 years or so for division anyway. I know that a lot of people (like my dh) tend to put the mulch too close to the crown, and that's a problem as well.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed, because I'd sure hate to give up something which seems to work for me. But then...I'm probably obsessing...

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 9:58AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I have been using newspaper under mulch in my garden beds for years. It is far more effective stopping weeds than mulch alone could ever be. The problem for me is getting the newspaper down in a heavily planted bed, seems like I have to cut and tear into little pieces to get it to work!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 5:30PM
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