What about newspapers?

In my gardening practices I occasionally find newspapers to be very useful. Therefore they do not always end up in the recycle bin. A few are stashed in a box in the garage, waiting for weed-smothering duties. Of course fewer and fewer of them are making it into the house, thankfully, since most news is being read online. But my husband picks up about one a week to stay on top of sports and sales. I don’t do newspapers but I know they have their place.

I happened to stumble across a couple of wonderful articles I am sharing here in their entirety with permission. One for fun (it made me laugh) yet still has great tips, and the next one with a clear description of how to properly use newspapers in the garden. Her tips are bang-on perfect because I have lived and learned through doing it myself over the years. I hope you enjoy!


25 Awesome Uses for Old Newspaper

by Aidan Koch

As receiving your news from the internet quickly becomes the norm, getting the ‘paper’ in the morning is becoming a rare and special thing. Even if you just get it on Sundays, as soon as the day is done, that news is mostly obsolete. Instead of recycling your paper right away, maybe using one of these great ideas will save you some time and effort you didn’t even realize.

Roll into a megaphone

Fold into a sailor’s hat

Paste it up as wallpaper

Fold into a protective book cover

Make papier-mâché sculpture

Read it

Use as birdcage lining

Use to block windows

Use to protect floors when painting

Use to fill in holes and cracks

Make paper chains

Cut apart for scrapbooking or collage

Shred and reuse to make your own paper

Use as a dustpan

Use as kindling

Cover ground off season to prevent weeds

Accordion fold into a fan

Line your cabinets

Use as a rag

Wrap items when moving

Protect items when mailing

Use in shoes to maintain the shape

Wrap presents

Use as a tablecloth

Line your trash or compost

Aidan Koch is an illustrator, artist, and writer. Her formative years were spent in the heart of the Puget Sound in Olympia, WA. Though Portland, OR has been her home base for some time, she always has an adventure around the corner. http://www.care2.com/greenliving/25-awesome-uses-for-old-newspaper.html

Newspaper Mulch: A Safe, Easy Alternative

By Annie B. Bond

Newspaper is a cheap, abundant and useful mulch. And it’s safe. You can ignore outdated cautions about newsprint containing lead because newspapers got the lead out decades ago. And the amount of hydrocarbons in colored inks is insignificant.

As a mulch layer under a decorative material such as bark chips or stones, newspaper smothers weeds and sod more effectively than the decorative material alone. And unlike some landscape fabrics and weed barriers, newspaper breaks down completely so you don’t have to extricate it in five years, when it’s shredded and roots are tangled in it.

How quickly a layer of newspaper mulch breaks down varies greatly depending on several factors. The rate is faster if the soil is rich in microorganisms, if your region is damp or you water often, or if temperatures are warm but not hot. Experiment to find what works best in your garden. As a starting point, if you live in a warm, damp climate, make your layer about five sheets thick. If your climate is dry or cold, use two sheets. Make the layer thicker if you want it to last more than a season or if you’re trying to smother an aggressive plant, such as a lawn of Bermuda grass or St. Augustine.

When using newspaper mulch, keep these pointers in mind:

• Slick inserts are safe, but their size and slickness makes them harder to work with than regular newsprint.

• Cover the newspaper completely with a decorative mulch. Exposed newspaper turns brittle quickly especially if it gets damp and then dries. Then it’s prone to breaking up and blowing around.

• Don’t cover seeds with newspaper—they can’t push through it.

• On a slope, the covering of decorative mulch is more likely to slip downhill with newspaper under it, so cover newspaper with a thicker layer of decorative mulch than you would on flat ground.

• Because newspaper is high in carbon, it could set off the chain of events among soil microbes that temporarily reduces the amount of nitrogen in the soil immediately below the mulch. The deficit should not affect established plants, but might make young, small plants turn a bit yellow. If so, treat them to a spritz of an organic foliar fertilizer.

Adapted from Yankee Magazine’s Panty Hose, Hot Peppers, Tea Bags, and more for the Garden (Yankee Books, 2005).

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. Named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine, Annie has authored four books, including “Home Enlightenment” (Rodale Press, 2005) and “Better Basics for the Home” (Three Rivers Press, 1999). http://www.care2.com/greenliving/newspaper-mulch-a-safe-easy-alternative.html

2 thoughts on “What about newspapers?

  1. Thank you for your so-true comment. Yuck. But even though I inwardly cringe when hubby brings them in, I love him, and he puts it in recycle or the gardening box. I only have to touch them (through gloves) if smothering noxious weeds like the Goutweed/Snow-on-the-Mountain inherited with our home, or it would completely take over the yard (neighbourhood… city).

  2. Yay! Another person who understands how much we can do with old newspapers! 😀 …and grass clippings, and leaves, and… those neighbours didn’t really WANT those did they? Nah! Hey what’s out in the alley for garbage pickup is fair game for free-ranging, recycling-aficionados like me (and you!). 🙂 Cheers, Gina

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