Mulch is used to retain water, even out â¦ In fact, one study revealed that paper had less toxic material than straw or grass! Apply any necessary fertilizer and work it into the soil before laying the shredded newspaper. You'll need about 25 to 50 pounds for every 100 square feet. Plus, the newspaper will attract earthworms, which will help the overall health and nutrition of your soil. There are several drawbacks to using newspaper as mulch: Ultimately, using newspaper as a mulch will require a lot of work. Melinda R. Cordell | September/October 2011. Shredded newspaper makes a fine mulch. Â© Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. To improve the overall appearance of the garden, you can apply a thin layer of a more attractive mulch on top. Newspaper mulch controls weeds, retains moisture, and keeps roots warmer in cool regions. The purpose of mulch is to prevent evaporation, and to gradually add organic matter into the topsoil. A thick layer of mulch on top of the soil preserves moisture, suppresses weed growth, and can even add nutrients to the soil all year long. We used to collect newspaper from major and minor newspapers around Vermont and shredded them and put that material though a John Deere bailer to make bales of mulch for dairy farmers. Newspaper is a vital ingredient in vermicomposting, and provides the bulk, carbon, and moisture retention needed to support a worm farm. Mulch should be two to three inches thick, and last up to a year. Q. I'm a devoted fan of your show looking for composting advice. I just got done â¦ A solid layer of shredded newspaper may form a sheet that prevents water and oxygen from moving through the pile, so mixing it with shredded leaves or twigs will help balance the pile and speed up the decomposition of those tougher materials. in Landscape Design/Organic Produce Production from the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. Sydney has over 15 years of experience in lawn maintenance, landscape design, and organic gardening. You will want to watch out for staples and plastic windows on envelopes that may have been shredded, but even a minimal amount of these can be sorted out of finished compost as you use it. This site is a participant in affiliate programs such as Amazon Associates and earns from qualifying purchases. Spread shredded paper on top of your plant beds or around trees, giving plant stems and tree trunks a bit of space between them and the paper. link to How to Keep Crabgrass Out of Flower Beds, link to 5 Tips for Creating Beautiful, Low-Maintenance Flower Beds. Moisten the paper, add a handful of compost or soil, and top it with some green material. ---Anne in Doylestown, PAA. paper mulch In the list of mulch materials for in and around your vegetable garden, paper and cardboard rank pretty close to the top of the list. So, if you are planning on using newspaper for mulch, ripping or shredding it by hand will give the best results. Simply lay down sheets of newspaper on bare soil where you do not want any seeds to germinate. Can You Use Shredded Paper As Mulch? We had to sort everything because people consistently disrespected the process and put everything from garbage to metal cans in the newspaper. What about shredded newsprint?--Marianne in New York, New York Except for colored and glossy paper, which might contain some toxic heavy metals, newsprint and other paper is safe to use as mulch or in compost. When using newspaper sheets, place a layer of two or three sheets between plant rows in the garden. Many gardening websites recommend adding shredded paper to your compost pile. If you donât have the time or patience to shred a gardenâs worth of newspaper, I donât blame you. If the bin is maintained properly, you will have usable compost within a few months. Paper can even improve the health of your compost. Shredded paper can also be used as mulch, but will need to be weighed down with a heavier mulch to keep it from blowing away. This can help avoid anaerobic conditions, but may also cause an uneven moisture layer if the paper is not spread evenly throughout the pile. The paper will prevent weeds, and the mulch will help with bulk and moisture. As long as the paper is wet, the plant will have a sufficient supply. If you are only using newspaper in a few small areas, you may be able to weigh it down with rocks. If you have large amounts of newspaper, you will want to make sure you are adding nutrient-dense green materials to balance out your finished compost. Begin laying out the pieces or layers of newspaper. Replace cardboard if any weeds show through. However, it also pulls moisture away from other organic materials as they decompose (source). Click Here to see the latest deals (link To Amazon). You can effectively use a newspaper weed barrier on loamy or sandy soils. Tearing or ripping them by hand will work, but may take longer to break down. Aim for a thickness of 5-10 sheets, and wet it down as you go. You likely have some right in your home -- and it's called newspaper. Now, with a larger focus on sustainable practices, most inks are made with soy. In the end, you have to overlap newspapers, while ensuring that there remain no gaps between the sheets of newspaper. Not add paper? So, how you shred your newspaper will ultimately depend on how you intend to use it. As paper decomposes, it also adds organic matter to the topsoil. Another way to make your own mulch is to use a wood chipper. El Borak at Men of the West has posted a good article on using shredded paper as mulch: Most gardeners who use raised beds quickly fall in love with mulches. You can also buy shredding scissors for small amounts of paper. When composting, shred newspaper as thin as possible to speed up decomposition. Sure you can! Passing newspaper through a standard paper shredder is ideal. Newspaper removes nitrogen from the soil and grass clippings adds it. Spread the shredded leaf mulch on top of vegetable garden beds and flower beds around the plants. Overlap the pieces to completely block out all the sunlight from the ground. When using either of these materials for compost they need to be shredded other-wise they will compress and stifle the heap. An easy test is to wipe your finger across some black text. There are a number of models available under $40, and it will more than pay for itself when you consider how much you can save on mulch after a year or two of using this method! Shredded newspapers or telephone books are good paper choices for composting or digging into soil directly. When grown in a barrel or grow bag, potatoes have to be hilled up by the addition â¦ Shredded newspaper may also be used under other mulches in â¦ Shredded paper also provides warmth, protection, and nutrients for the plantâs roots. First, pull weeds from the area, and then place the mulch around the plants. You can also use a box cutter to cut through multiple sheets at one time. Melissa Lewis is a former elementary classroom teacher and media specialist. A little elbow grease and a lot of paper weights can help transform the Classifieds section into something that is actually useful. Newspaper improves structure in finished compost. How To Shred Newspaper For Compost. Thriving Yard is a privately owned website. As an added bonus, you might also impress your neighbors with your gardening know-how and ingenuity. Using Shredded Paper as Mulch in the Vegetable Garden The last three years we have used shredded paper from my office as mulch in our vegetable garden. Composted wood chips make a fine mulch, too. Essentially, smaller pieces equal quicker breakdown. You can use the paper for mulch or you can compost it! It's just as effective at maintaining soil temperatures, suppressing weed growth and conserving water as other more expensive types of mulch. However, if you have clay soil, it may exacerbate drainage issues. You can put leaves, grass, pine bark mulch or whatever you like to look at that is organic and will break down over winter. Product recommendations not personally owned are based on the authorâs knowledge of the company, product, reliability, and reputation. You can capture the shredded leaf mulch as it comes out of the leaf shredder and store it in a wheelbarrow or other collection bin until you are ready to use it. If your finger has a black residue, it is likely petroleum ink. Learn which types of paper are safe for composting and which types to consider skipping. Amazon has put together some great Home Holiday Guide Deals - save money and get your holiday shopping done! So, as you lay down newspaper, try poking holes with a pitchfork to help with absorption. Lay the shredded paper so it is between 2 and 4 inches thick. For more information on improving soil structure or clay soils, check out our other articles on best soil practices. Unfortunately, many people who give composting advice â¦ Thriving Yard is an affiliate for companies including Amazon Associates and earn a commission on qualifying purchases. Vermicomposting should not smell, and itâs even possible to build bins that fit under the kitchen sink for easy recycling of kitchen scraps. She has also written for various online publications. If you are getting shredded paper from an office setting, it should be fine. Bark mulches are best used around trees, shrubs, and in garden beds where you wonât be â¦ I mulch with shredded leaves because I have a stock pile of them. 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