The Ultimate Guide to Using Paper as Weed Control in Your Garden

As someone who loves to garden, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to battle weeds constantly. Not only do they ruin your garden’s aesthetic, but they also compete with your plants for nutrients and water.

While many weed control solutions are on the market, I’ve found that using paper is one of the most effective and environmentally friendly options. In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about using paper as weed control in your garden.


Introduction to Paper as a Weed Control Solution

You might be wondering how paper can be an effective weed control solution. Paper is an excellent barrier that can prevent weeds from growing in your garden.

When placed on top of the soil, paper blocks the sunlight weeds need to germinate and grow. Additionally, the piece retains moisture and prevents soil erosion, which can further inhibit weed growth.

Another benefit of using paper as weed control is its sustainable and affordable option. Rather than purchasing expensive herbicides or weed barriers, you can repurpose materials you already have at home.

Using paper as weed control is also an eco-friendly choice, as it reduces the need for harmful chemicals and plastic products.

Advantages of Using Paper for Weed Control

There are many advantages to using paper for weed control in your garden. Firstly, it’s a natural and sustainable option that won’t harm the environment or your plants.

Unlike synthetic weed barriers, paper is biodegradable and can be composted once you’re done.

Another advantage of using paper is that it’s an affordable and easily accessible material. For example, you can use newspaper, cardboard, or brown paper bags, which are readily available and often accessible.

This makes paper weed control an accessible option for gardeners on a budget.

Lastly, paper weed control is effective and low-maintenance. Once you’ve laid down your paper barrier, you don’t need to do much else to maintain it.

Unlike traditional wedding methods, which require constant upkeep, paper weed control can last for an entire growing season with minimal effort.


Types of Paper That Work Best for Weed Control

Now that you understand the benefits of using paper for weed control, let’s discuss which types work best. You want to choose a form that is thick enough to block sunlight but not so thick that it won’t decompose. Here are a few options to consider:


Newspaper is one of the most popular options for paper weed control. It’s widely available and affordable, and its thinness allows it to break down easily over time.

However, avoid using glossy or colored pages, as they may contain chemicals that could harm your plants.


Cardboard is another excellent option for weed control. It’s thicker than newspaper, which will last longer and provide a sturdier barrier. Cardboard is also biodegradable, so you can compost it once you’re done.

Brown Paper Bags

If you have any brown paper bags lying around, they can also be used for weed control. They’re thicker than newspaper but not as comprehensive as cardboard, making them an excellent middle-ground option. Plus, they’re often free and readily available at grocery stores.

Preparing Your Garden for Paper Weed Control

Before you lay down your paper weed barrier, there are a few steps you need to take to prepare your garden. First, remove all existing weeds from where you’ll lay the paper. This will ensure the weeds don’t grow through the paper and negate its effectiveness.

Next, water the soil thoroughly. Moist soil will make it easier for you to lay the paper and help it adhere to the ground. Once the soil is moist, rake it to create a level surface for the paper.


Step-by-Step Guide to Using Paper as Weed Control

Now that your garden is prepped, it’s time to lay down your paper weed barrier. Follow these steps for the best results:

Cut Paper to Size: Cut the paper into sheets large enough to cover the area you want to suppress weeds in. Newspaper or kraft paper can be used.

Avoid using glossy or colored paper, as these may contain harmful chemicals that can leach into the soil.

Wet the Soil: Lightly water the area where you will lay down the paper. This will help the paper adhere to the soil.

Lay Down the Paper: Lay the sheets of paper over the damp soil, overlapping the edges by at least 2 inches. This will help prevent weeds from growing through the gaps in the paper.

If the area is windy, place a rock or other heavy object on each corner of the paper to keep it from blowing away.

Add Mulch: Once the paper is in place, cover it with a layer of mulch. This will help keep the paper in place and add an extra weed suppression layer.

Avoid using too much mulch, as this can prevent water from reaching the soil.

Water: Lightly water the area to help the paper and mulch.


Mulching with Paper for Added Benefits

While paper alone can be an effective weed barrier, adding a layer of mulch on top can provide additional benefits. Mulch helps to retain moisture in the soil, regulate soil temperature, and prevent soil erosion. It also adds nutrients to the ground as it breaks down over time.

Choose a natural material such as wood chips, straw, or leaves when mulching with paper. Avoid using synthetic mulches, as they can harm your plants and contribute to pollution. Instead, apply a layer of mulch on top of the paper, ensuring it’s at least 2-3 inches deep.

Tips for Maintaining Your Paper Weed Control

Maintaining your paper weed control is essential to ensure its effectiveness in your garden. Here are some tips for keeping your paper weed control:

Check the paper regularly:

It’s essential to check the paper weed control regularly to ensure it’s not breaking down too quickly or blowing away. If you notice any gaps or holes, add more layers of paper to maintain weed control.

Water the paper:

Watering the paper weed control regularly can help it stick to the soil and prevent it from blowing away. It also allows the paper to break down faster and integrate into the soil.

Add a layer of organic material:

Adding a layer of organic material like straw or wood chips on top of the paper weed control can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. It also adds to the aesthetic appeal of your garden.

Avoid using chemical herbicides:

Chemical herbicides can break down the paper weed control and harm the environment. Instead, use organic weed control methods like hand-pulling or using a hoe to remove weeds.

Replace the paper annually:

Over time, the paper weed control can break down and become less effective. Therefore, replacing the paper annually is recommended to ensure the best weed control results.

Don’t walk on the paper:

Walking on the paper makes it compacted and less effective


Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Paper for Weed Control

Using paper as a weed barrier can be an effective and affordable way to control weeds in your garden. However, there are a few common mistakes that you should avoid:

Using glossy paper:

Glossy paper, such as magazine pages or photo paper, contains chemicals that can be harmful to plants and soil. Stick to plain newsprint or brown paper bags instead.

Not using enough layers:

A single layer of paper is not enough to effectively control weeds. You should use at least 4-6 layers of paper or more if you’re dealing with particularly persistent weeds.

Not wetting the paper:

Wetting the paper before laying it down can help it stick to the soil and prevent it from blowing away. It also allows the paper to break down faster and integrate into the soil.

Not covering the paper:

If you leave the paper exposed to sunlight, it can dry out and become brittle, making it less effective at controlling weeds. Instead, cover the paper with a layer of mulch to keep it moist and in place.

Not removing existing weeds:

Paper is not a magic solution for weed control – it’s essential to remove any existing weeds before laying down the paper. Otherwise, the weeds will grow through the paper and continue to spread.


Frequently Asked Questions About Paper Weed Control

Here are a few frequently asked questions about using paper for weed control:

How long does paper weed control last?

The duration of paper weed control largely depends on the type of paper used, the thickness of the paper, and the environmental conditions.

Typically, paper weed control can last for one to two seasons. However, factors such as heavy rainfall, intense sunlight, and high winds can cause the paper to break down more quickly, reducing its effectiveness.

As the paper decomposes, it will add organic matter to the soil, improving soil health and fertility. However, when the paper eventually breaks down, it must be replaced with a new layer to continue suppressing weeds.

It is essential to monitor the effectiveness of paper weed control throughout the growing season and make adjustments to maintain a weed-free garden or landscape.


Can I plant in the same area as my paper weed barrier?

Yes, you can plant in the same area where you have used paper as a weed barrier. As the paper decomposes, it will add organic matter to the soil, improving soil health and fertility and making it beneficial for growing plants.

However, before planting, cut a simple hole where you want to grow and add soil. Then, use garden shears or scissors to cut a small hole in the paper and push it aside to make space for your plant. Then, add soil to the spot and plant your seed or transplant as usual.

This method allows you to plant without disturbing the paper barrier and still benefit from the organic matter it adds to the soil. The paper will continue to act as a weed barrier around the plants.

Will paper weed control harm my plants?

No, paper weed control should not harm your plants. Paper is an organic and biodegradable material that will break down over time and become part of the soil.

The paper layer will prevent sunlight from reaching weed seeds, which can prevent them from germinating and growing, but it should not affect the growth of your desired plants.

However, it is essential to ensure that you use the paper weed control correctly. If the paper is too thick, it can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the soil and the roots of your plants.

Therefore, it is recommended to use a thinner layer of paper and cover it with a layer of organic mulch, such as leaves or straw, to help retain moisture in the soil.



Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Using paper as weed control is a simple, affordable, and eco-friendly solution for any gardener. By choosing the right type of paper, prepping your garden correctly, and maintaining the barrier throughout the growing season, you can effectively prevent weeds from ruining your garden.

Plus, by mulching with natural materials, you can provide additional benefits to your plants and soil. So try paper weed control this growing season and see the difference it can make in your garden.