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8 Ways to Use Newspaper in the Flower Garden

Flower gardeners often look for ways to stretch their dollar by using household items in the garden. Using newspapers in the garden is frugal and environmentally sound. When households toss their newspapers in the trash, they contribute to the 6% of the waste stream made up by newspapers in landfills. That newspaper can take decades to decompose in such an anaerobic environment. These eight recycling ideas will have you looking forward to a hefty Sunday paper so you can accomplish more in the garden.

1. Newspaper for Container Gardens

Gardeners can cut newspapers into circles that custom fit their flower containers to slow moisture loss in pots. Three layers provide an effective barrier against weeds while still allowing oxygen and irrigation to pass through. Disguise the newspaper with organic mulch or decorative moss.

Newspaper is also handy as a pot liner for terra cotta containers, which tend to dry out rapidly in hot dry weather. Line the entire pot with a few sheets of newspaper, and watch your porous pots become more efficient at holding moisture than before. Tuck the ends of the paper over the soil surface, and hide with standard mulching materials.

2. Newspaper in the Compost Bin

As summer progresses, gardeners often find their compost bins emitting a strong ammonia smell, due to an excess of nitrogenous materials. When added to the compost bin, newspaper functions a carbon-rich ingredient that sweetens the pile when too many kitchen scraps and lawn clippings make it odoriferous. Run over sheets of newspaper with the lawnmower and bag the paper and grass clippings together to create the perfect mix of nitrogen and carbon for the compost bin.

3. Newspaper in the Worm Bin

Shredded newspaper makes an ideal bedding for the worm compost bin. Gardeners should run the paper through a paper shredder, excluding shiny advertising pages. Add enough water to the newspaper so that it is as damp as a wrung out sponge. The worms will feed on the newspaper along with the food scraps, so replenish it regularly.

4. Newspaper for Lasagna Gardening

Lasagna gardening involves layering newspapers or cardboard, soil, and compost over a planting space to create a new garden bed. Newspapers make an excellent first layer in the lasagna garden bed, as they make an impenetrable mat that smothers weeds when soaked with water and placed several inches thick.

5. Newspaper as Frost Protection

Gardeners in temperate climates can stretch the gardening season using cold frames, but sometimes these aren’t enough to protect even hardy annuals from freezing temperatures. Lining the cold frame with newspapers further insulates the structure, providing a few extra degrees of protection on frigid nights.

6. Newspaper Pots for Seed Starting

Gardeners can make newspaper pots for seed starting by purchasing a wooden form that twists the paper into small containers. Gardeners can also make paper planters out of newspaper for starting seedlings. This is a fun activity to do with children who are learning about recycling and gardening.

Cut newspapers into one-inch strips, and soak them in a bucket filled with water, so that the ratio is one part paper to two parts water. After one day of soaking, the wood fibers can be pulped by beating the mixture with an eggbeater. Squeeze all excess water from the pulp, and press a half inch layer inside a plastic cup. After three days, take the handmade planter out of the plastic cup and use it to start a cutting or seed.

7. Newspaper Stores Tender Bulbs

Use newspaper to loosely wrap frost-tender flower bulbs like dahlias and gladioli for winter storage. Newspaper is an environmentally sound alternative to storing bulbs in peat moss, which is an exhaustible resource.

8. Newspaper Keeps Garden Tools Clean

Don’t let rust shorten the lifespan of your favorite garden tools. Wipe the working end of your tools with a few sheets of newspaper to remove dirt and debris, then plunge the tools into a bucket filled with sand and a cup of oil.