Friday, April 04, 2014

Old Newspapers Can Have Second Life in Garden

Contact: Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist
Headquartered in Greene County
Tel: (417) 881-8909

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Past copies of the daily or weekly newspaper can have a second life in your garden as mulch or a weed barrier.

Newsprint (but not slick paper used in inserts or magazines) is a great tool for the garden according to Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Even newsprint with color pictures is generally fine since most use biodegradable and water-soluble inks that won't harm the environment,” said Byers.

Whether a person is creating a new flower bed, a mulched area around a tree, or covering paths between rows in a vegetable garden, newspaper has all the great properties expected and wanted from organic mulches.

“When you lay newsprint out several (4 to 10) sheets thick and overlap one group of sheets onto the next, you create a weed barrier that will smother out many existing plants.  It will also preserve moisture so you don't need to worry about watering as often,” said Byers.

Newsprint will dissolve in a few weeks or months, leaving behind no residual mess.

If a gardener wants a nicer look, after laying down the newspaper, cover it with mulch.

“I would not put wood chips in my vegetable garden, but straw is a great cover between rows.  On the other hand, I would not put straw in my flower beds in front of the house since I think wood mulch looks better,” said Byers.

Using newspaper as a mulch or weed barrier results in a cost savings. But remember, it will take a lot of newspaper to cover an entire garden.

“Newsprint can be used in composting too. Just shred it up and add it to your compost pile as dry or brown matter,” said Byers.

For more information, contact the Master Gardener’s Hotline in Greene County, or University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Specialist Patrick Byers, at (417) 881-8909.

For 100 years, MU Extension has engaged Missourians in relevant programs based on University of Missouri research. The year 2014 marks the centennial of the Smith-Lever Act, which formalized the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service, a national network whose purpose is to extend university-based knowledge beyond the campus.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians. Each county extension center, with oversight by locally elected and appointed citizens, is your local link to practical education on almost anything. More information on this topic is available online at


Post a Comment

Let us know how you have been helped by this article or what you have learned from this story.

<< Home