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Control Weeds Organically With “Newspaper Lasagna”

Newspaper lasagna 9

I recently learned a simple trick to help keep plants free from weeds and soil-borne diseases, and believe it or not, it involves making lasagna! (Disclaimer: please do not try to eat this lasagna, because I don’t think it would taste very good!)

Making a “newspaper lasagna” using alternating layers of newspaper and dirt or mulch is an easy way to create a biodegradable barrier between your garden plants and any weeds or diseases that may come calling. It denies the bad stuff access to sunlight, yet allows rain and air to penetrate the soil.

It only takes a couple of minutes to put together, and you can plant as soon as it’s done! I’ve been wanting to put some thyme in my garden, so that’s what I’m showing here, but this would work just as well for flowers or veggies.  Also, check out this easy homemade weed killer if you have stubborn weeds that keep popping up around your garden.

Newspaper lasagna

Start by scooping and inch or so of soil off of your area. Place about 10 sheets of newspaper over the area.

Newspaper lasagna

Once the newspaper is in place, soak the newspaper with water with a hose or a watering can, making sure to saturate it thoroughly.

Newspaper lasagna

Once the water has been absorbed by the paper, cover it with a layer of dirt or mulch.

Now repeat! :-) Place 10 more sheets of newspaper on the dirt, saturate it with water, then cover the wet paper with the dirt.

Newspaper lasagna

Newspaper Lasagna

Newspaper lasagna

And that’s all there is to it! If you’re planning on planting in the area where your “newspaper lasagna” is, simply dig a hole with a trowel and place the plant right in. The soaked newspaper is easy to cut through.

You can also place create your “newspaper lasagna” between existing plants to help suppress weeds!

Newspaper lasagna

In addition to discouraging weeds, this gardening trick also helps conserve precious moisture, and as the paper decomposes, it will provide abundant food for worms and other soil-building friends.

Have you ever tried the newspaper lasagna gardening trick?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • What a great idea!!! I think covering it with mulch with work best in my case and i love that you can poke holes right through it to plant. Wow. I feel dumb that i never thought of this or the feed sacks below. Great ideas!!

  • I read that you can soak the newspaper first, then lay it down and mulch over it. It would also keep the newspaper from blowing away if it’s windy!

  • I use my chicken feed sacks. I garden in beds, 2 ft x 8 ft, and a chicken feed bag opened up length wise fits perfectly. Installed every fall after harvest, over chicken manure from the fall coop clean out, wet down, by spring the bag is easily punctured with a dibble for planting all the seeding started in the sun room in March!

  • Hi Jillie
    I live in the Caribbean. I’ve never heard about the use of newspaper before. I sure would like to try this idea out. I do always hv newspapers because my son works with a newspaper company. Thanks very much for the tips & ideas. I do appreciate you advise. Keep on doing what you do. Be blessed.

  • Hi Jillee, greetings from Canada, this issue couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, working on my yard, shaking my head wondering what to do with all the weeds. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us, I can’t wait to see what will be tomorrow and all the tomorrows to come.

  • I watered my tomatoes and beans that were already planted in my raised bed, then I used some layers of newspaper and a little soil, then cardboard and some soil. I watered those until very wet. Then I put a thick layer of straw and leaves on top to hold it all in place, and watered that as well. This will compost into the soil, help keep the grass and weeds at bay, and cut down on watering. Yes, the straw will have some seeds, but they won’t get a strong hold because of the cardboard layer underneath the mulch. Easy to pull out!

  • I would love to try this but am curious about what to do with existing plants. I have some tall hedges in my front yard that get crowded with weeds; could I use this method around the bases to kill off some of the weeds?

  • Great advice here, Jillie. I have been using newspapers, cardboard, and other paper for years in keeping weeds down in the garden. When starting a new garden I put garden soil down (the kind you purchase in bags) on top to keep from reseeding existing weeds. I’ve always felt responsible recycling starts with reusing recyclable materials first in your own home where possible.

  • The technique I use is slightly different. I prepare the area by mowing all vegetation down, layer about 6 or 8 sheets of newspaper, then about 4 inches of wood mulch, preferably freshly shredded mulch with the leaves mixed in. If I have cardboard, that is even better. If this is done in the fall, it is all settled and ready for spring planting. If done in spring, I add extra nitrogen to the plantings. This has helped with not only the weeds but my garden watering is reduced by about 2/3

  • I’ll be putting this to use today! Thanks for this and all your other great posts. Did you know that putting human hair around your plants will deter animals? Just pick some up next time you get a haircut. This has really worked well for us.

  • Violets are terribly hard to remove from the garden without resorting to chemicals. I used a variation of your idea, placing mulch on top of the papers, and so far (one year) it’s worked. Liked your method and will try it. Doesn’t work for “sweet potato vines” and tree suckers – anything with a strong underground root system. Also, beware of bringing in weed seeds with the straw.

  • I am delighted to have “found” your website! Like many people, I get allergic reactions (some intense) to all the stuff that is used in our world now. Cleaning supplies, dryer sheets, preservatives/additives in today’s foods. Always looking for not only alternative methods, but also appreciate anyone who takes the time/effort to educate. I’ve often thought that if a CEO had a wife or daughter who suffered and reacted to the chemicals being used, we might have a breakthrough. Just sayin’…… thank you for your efforts and ideas. They are truly appreciated. Janet Doyle

  • I did something like this in my vegetable garden for the first time last year, and had the most successful garden yet. I also don’t bring any soil to the surface; just lay down newspaper and mulch with straw. You can buy straw directly from growers more cheaply than stores by searching listings on CraigsList.

    You can even use it directly over already-growing weeds, as long as they’re still small enough to tamp down a bit. I found two layers of newspaper, overlapping at the edges, and enough straw to hold it down was sufficient for almost a whole growing season.

    I originally heard of the trick in Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal Vegetable Miracle.”

  • What is optimim # of newspaper layers for the garden? I have used newspaper before, but didn’t know about the ‘Lasagna recipe’. Can’t wait to try it.

  • I’ve used this method for over 10 years. It’s not necessary to remove any soil first as that brings weed seeds to the surface. Also, avoid using any glossy printed newspaper. Cardboard will also work. This is basically composting in place. Chopped leaves added in autumn provide nutrients and won’t blow away. They will decompose quickly adding a water retention quality much better than peat moss.

    • I bought them on clearance at a Smith’s grocery store, but I just looked them up on Amazon and they have been discontinued :-( Sorry Leslie! The brand is called Eco-Fiber if you’re interested in searching for them!

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