A few years ago I decided to do a planting on a side of the house that was a bit neglected. The planter was full of weeds and I had done nothing with it since we purchased the house a few years before that. (This was about the time my gardening bug really hit) So I got down on hands and knees and worked my butt off to clear out the weeds and all the unwanted “stuff” I found in the weed bed. It was hard work and when I was done, my first thought was “I don’t want to have to do this again and again. Maybe I shouldn’t plant anything nice.” I didn’t want to have to weed every week in this area because I knew I wouldn’t do it and it would all grow over all the nice plants I was planning on planting. So I did a little research. Internet, here I come!
After searching and searching and reading and reading thanks to our friends at Google, I found what I was looking for and made a plan. But I had to hurry before the darn weeds started showing again! So one morning before it got too hot, I went out there with a bunch of newspaper in hand. I tilled the soil a bit by hand to level the ground some so it would look better. Then I planted some Star Jasmine and Azalea. I already had a blue potato tree out there that had such pretty purplish, bluish blossoms on it, I decided to keep it.
Once I had planted everything, I again smoothed the dirt out to level it out. Then I took the newspaper, a few pages at a time, and spread it out all over the dirt areas, keeping a small space open at the base of my plants and tree for watering purposes. After I had covered the area with newspaper, I gave it a mist of water just to weight it down a bit while I continued to work. I had purchased several bags of mulch and spread it all out over the top of the newspapers, a couple of inches thick, leveled it out, made it look pretty, watered my new plants and voila! A beautiful garden in under 2 hours! Believe it or not, it was 3 years before I ever had to worry about weeds in that area! So now, whenever I plant a large area, I first cover it with newspaper to help keep the weeds down. I no longer need to spend a bunch of money on weed control material from the local Home Depot. Newspaper accomplishes the same thing for much less money!
Sadly, while I wanted to post a picture of the area, I cannot. We had a big freeze last winter and I lost everything but the tree. The Star Jasmine is still struggling to come back and I think in the spring I will probably just replant.
There are 2 morals to this story: 1. Use newspaper under your mulch to help control weeds for quite some time. 2. If you want to keep your plants, cover them during a frost! (We Californians don’t know any better!)
Independent Garden Consultant
The Happy Gardener