Newspaper/Mulch combo mainence

naughtywildcat(7Maryland)May 27, 2008

I have just begun working with the newspaper/mulch combo, and it is doing really well in the small portion of the garden that I have started with. I'm pleased with the results, and am looking forward to expanding on the method to gain some semblance of control in my front yard.

What I want to know is how should this type of thing be maintained. I know that the newspaper will decompose over time, and so the weeds are likely to reappear. Should I apply more mulch over what is already there in the coming year to help keep the layer thick so that the weeds have no light to sprout into? Or would it be best to rake back the mulch, reapply the newspaper, and then layer the old mulch with a bit of new mulch back on top? Whatever is most efficient and requires the least amount of effort is my choice!


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joepyeweed(5b IL)

Whatever is most efficient and requires the least amount of effort is my choice!

Mine too. I usually don't reapply newspaper in an established bed. I do reapply mulch, almost every year. It depends upon the mulch and the weather. Hardwood mulch and a dry summer will last longer than say leaf mulch in wet summer...

I just kind of go by the appearance, feel and weediness, to decide whether I should add more mulch.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 1:34PM
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I should add that I'm using pine mulch at the recommendation of Mom because it won't attract the termites. I think if I do this next year I am going to get the mulch by the truck load so that it is cheaper. I can get regular mulch for free at the dump, but I'd rather not deal with the bugs!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 1:51PM
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The newspaper is primarily to kill off perennial weeds that will keep coming back no matter how often you pull them. After a season or so, they should be completely dead and going forward you should just need to reapply the mulch, not the paper.

I use newspaper to start new beds. Once the weeds are smothered out, mulching and occasional hand-weeding of stray seedlings seems to do the trick.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 5:46PM
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Soitgoes - thanks for the clarification. I did not think the newspaper needed to be reapplied.
Would it be smart to put down mulch and newspaper for a season before beginning to plant things? Then the mulch can be raked back, and the plant inserted, and the mulch replaced. I can always wait a while before beginning to really get my stuff planted, I'm a patient person. Anything other than the insane weed beds that I have now is good!

I also posted about how to get the weeds out of my periwinkle, but no one has written any suggestions on that trick yet...

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:47AM
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If you have very persistant weeds (such as anything that grows from rhizomes), prepping the bed a year ahead of time isn't a bad idea. A plain mulch bed is not unattractive. This way if any weeds are strong enough to push through, you can dispatch them before any flowers need to compete.

So I would say it depends on the flowers and weeds. If you have aggressive weeds and flowers that need coddling, prepping a year ahead might help. If you have not very persistent weeds and hardy perennials, then go ahead and plant the first year. Just make sure you remove as many roots as you can, when the ground is moist and pulling is easier.

I might add that if weeds that spread by the root are allowed to remain in the area near the bed, they will still try to encroach on the bed no matter what you do. We are trying to fight back lots of monster weeds, and it's a long battle.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 6:35PM
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artqueen-2007(zone 9 TX)

What about nutgrass/sedge? This stuff is everywhere in my Texas Gulfcoast garden alone with dollar weed and Johnson grass. I am using newspaper and mulch with some success. I put down roofing felt in my nursery area and the nutgrass grows right through it. This stuff is tough. And those runners!!! Ugh! Help, help. I hate using chemicals but sometimes it is the only wau.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 11:32PM
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Periwinkle...I have it in a larger garden area next to a small separate bit an Arbor Vitae in it. I like to keep white clips campanula there under the arbor vitae-the acidic soil lends itself well to campanula. However, the periwinkle "next door" roots deep and always kills out my campanula. This time I've take ALL out, any sign of campanula and weeds, keep doing this until I find some type of barrier border to bury at the line between the beds...vertically and deep. Like a "rug" on it's end and down in the soil to make a barrier. Then plant LOTS of campanula instead of just a few to spread. Then they should take root quicker. Gonna leave bare soil under campanula so I can get down in to pull up any other weeds/periwinkle that do crop up as they come one by one. Doesn't pay for me to kill with newspaper because the periwinkle is so deeply rooted.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 1:02PM
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Even though this is 2 years old, the reason for using newspaper (or any paper) is to block an unwanted plants access to sunlight and when you block a plants access to sunlight that plant will die. Once you have mulched with paper there is no need to do so again, provided you have maintained adequate levels of mulch so any "weed" seeds on the soil do not get the sunlight needed to germinate and grow.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 8:47AM
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