Eco-conscious gardeners have been using newspapers for years to stunt the growth of weeds in lawns and gardens. This inexpensive material offers yet another way to avoid toxic chemical sprays. Some use several layers of newspaper to most effectively stop weeds. Here's how we used newspapers on a small home project to clean up an overgrown flower bed:
We hoed and pulled by hand as many weeds as possible from the flower bed.
We applied our layer of newspapers over the entire flowerbed.
We added a new layer of rich garden soil that we're reasonably sure is free of weeds, raking until it evenly covered all of the newspaper.
We'll add a layer of mulch and make holes in the newspaper for immediate new plantings. In this case, we have only a thin layer of newspaper, so that as it breaks down, the roots of new flower seeds can also grow down through it. As the newspaper breaks down, it can eventually allow new weed growth; but this helps us get ahead of the weeds again. Apologies to those gardeners and naturalists out there who don't consider anything a weed. I'm using the term loosely here to include anything I don't want in my flowerbed at a particular time.