Mulch Now to Control Garden Weeds Naturally and Inexpensively

It's spring time again and home gardeners are itching to get to work. Proper planning and conditioning now will provide a bounty of beautiful flowers, shrubs and vegetables later in the season. Take care of those pesky weeds now, naturally and inexpensively using this mulching trick. Mulch will not only control weeds, but retain moisture in the soil and keep extreme temperatures from damaging root systems. There are many different types and ways to apply mulch.

Some of them can be very costly. I've found a better way to control weeds naturally and inexpensively. If you're putting in new plants, be sure to follow planting procedures like proper depth and spacing as well as watering the holes where your plants will go. For established garden areas, make sure to hoe or pull weeds more than two inches tall. Also be sure you have applied any compost and tilled it into the soil well. Level the ground and break up any large clods of soil.

Then it's time for the mulch. Commercial mulches can be costly. An inexpensive alternative is to recycle newspapers under a shallow layer of shredded bark. The newspapers are of course free, and you can feel good about recycling them.

Shredded bark can be purchased in quantity from a sawmill for a very reasonable price. First, wet the ground to be covered. Don't make a mud puddle, but be sure to soak it well. Then lay out the newspapers. You can use 1-2 sheets, overlapping them to keep them in place. Put rocks or some other heavy object down to hold them down temporarily.

Once you have an area covered, wet it again to soak the newspapers. This will keep the paper from blowing away and you can pick up and move the rocks or weights to the next area. Repeat this procedure until the entire area is covered. If you have existing plants, you can tear and fit the newspapers around them. Make sure they snug right up against the base of the plants to keep the weeds out. Then apply the bark mulch.

Since you've already put down a weed barrier (newspapers), you won't need nearly as much bark mulch as is usually called for. You need only apply enough to hide the newspapers. Commercial applications calling for mulch at a 2 inch depth will require one 2 cubic feet bag to cover 12 square feet.

You will only need half that much if you've put down newspapers first. Which kind and size of mulch to use will depend on your budget. If you're shopping commercially, you can purchase plain medium sized bark at about half the price of mulch treated with insect deterrant. Sawmills produce bark as a by product and will cost even less.

Make sure the mulch is evenly spread. By adding mulch as needed once a year, you'll have a head start on the garden weeds. The newspapers will work as a weed barrier and are free compared to expensive weed cloth. They will also retain moisture in the soil and degrade naturally to improve the condition of the soil in your garden.

The mulch will cover the newspapers giving your garden or flower beds an attractive look. They too will degrade into soil-enhancing nutrients. Mulching will also help protect roots from extreme temperatures, keeping the root system warm during cooler spring nights and cooler during the hot summer days.

Cindy Dykstra is an avid gardener who writes articles for This and other articles on the site can be freely used on your web site, blog or newsletter and free RSS feeds are available too. Visit today!

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