Newspaper or Landscape Fabric | 5 Reasons Newspaper Kills Weeds BETTER!


Newspaper or Landscape Fabric?

We’ve shared this tip before – but with the awesome weather, we have had the last couple days it seemed like a good time to mention it again!

My kids helped me weed my flower beds today and I ran up to Lowe’s to get some mulch – but before I lay it down, I’m putting down some newspaper to save myself from weeding anymore this season.

Why Newspaper?  Once you’ve spent hours upon hours hunched over hand-weeding a flower bed – you’re in no hurry to do it again. Here’s a little tip I learned from my mom  (the greenest thumb I know) about keeping out weeds in your flowerbeds….

Layer on the Newspaper!

Newspapering your weeded flower beds is a cheap, easy way to keep our unwanted weeds by denying them light. Here are 5 Ways using Newspaper totally trumps laying down landscaping fabric in your garden:

  1. It’s a great way to recycle old papers.
  2. Newspaper amends the soil, leaving it soft and loose if it is currently hard and rocky. As the cotton fibers in the paper decompose, it makes your soil richer and softer for next year’s planting! This hard clay soil here in Tennessee is a prime example of why I need to newspaper my beds.
  3. Get ready to grow a nice crop of earthworms – because they LOVE the layer where the paper meets the soil. And we all know worms are good for your plants – as well as handy on a fishing trip.
  4. Newspaper is FREE – whereas the black landscaping fabric can get costly.
  5. In fact, the landscaping fabric really is evil stuff. You not only will have weeds start growing through the microscopic holes in the fabric (also, many seeds are airborne and will just land on top anyway) – but it’s nearly impossible to pull them out when their roots are under/enmeshed in the fabric (You literally have to CUT the landscaping fabric off the ground to get the weeds out!)

Are you convinced yet? Then let’s get cracking! You’ll need to weed your beds first and then lie down a thick layer of 8-10 sheets of stacked newspaper. (If you run out, wet cardboard will work as well)  Cover with a thick layer of mulch (about 3″) and you’ll be weed-free for a few years before you need to lie down anymore!

Do you have any tips for keeping weeds out? I’d love to hear them!



  1. I want to plant some shrubs in my yard. I’ve already killed the grass with Spectracide. I don’t feel like digging up the dead grass, or tilling the circles where I plan to plant the shrubs. Can I use paper on top of the dead grass? I will edge each circle deeply, put down newspaper, plant shrub in the middle, and then mulch. I have always removed the sod, added soil, planted, and mulched. I don’t want to have to pull up grass when I can just get it out of the way now. If this is guaranteed to work I would love it.

    1. I would add some Preen on top of the dead grass before I put down the newspapers. Of course, there are never any guarantees but I believe this will work.

  2. We recently covered up our grass with only 1 or 2 layers of newspaper, with mulch on top. Will the grass grow through?

  3. Thanks for the nice tip and for even taking the time to write this. I have never thought about using a newspaper, and the fact that it invites earthworms to your garden is a plus, using cardboard also works but you will not have any worms in your garden because it smothers their environment.

    1. A thick layer of cardboard rots down easily & the works thrive in this sort of environment, you make sure the edges are overlapping to prevent light getting through and cover it with a thick layer of manure or wood chips, I use both, my ground is extremely fertile. I have been using this method for 20 years. I suggest you look at a man called Charles Dowling’s website called No Dig Gardening.

  4. Geat idea, I usually use them for cleaning the windows 🙂 but I think this method is better and helps nature, will do it, thank you.

  5. I plan to do this over the winter and in the spring plant zinnia seeds, can seeds break through those layers and root? I will put bagged soil on top of the newspaper before I plant the seeds.

    1. I’m not a landscaping expert so take my opinion for what it’s worth. I think in time the roots may break through but if the newspaper is there to keep weeds from growing up there is a chance it could slightly hinder roots from growing down.

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