Introduction: DIY Biodegradable Weedblocker

I love having a vegetable garden but I HATE weeding. This is a trick I learned from my folks after years of pulling weeds in their garden.

Step 1: Gather LOTS of Newspaper

Save your newspaper. Grab them from work. Solicit them from you family, friends an neighbors. The bigger the garden, the more you will need.

Step 2: Stockpile Grass Clippings

It's best to use fresh clippings since they tend to mold if you keep them in a pile for too long. It's better to have too much than not enough.

Step 3: Plant Your Garden

If you are starting with seeds, you will need to wait until they are at least a few inches high. Mark them well. If you are starting with seedling, then you can skip right to the next step when you are done planting.

Step 4: Lay Out the Newspaper and Cover With Clippings

Lay out your newspaper all over the garden 2 - 3 sheet thick. Get as close to the base of you plants as you can. Layer the newspaper with 4 - 6 inches of fresh grass clippings. You do not want to see any of the newspaper when you are done. The weight of the clippings should keep the newspaper from being blown away by the wind (gale force excepted).

Step 5: Water Your Garden

Give your garden a good soaking. This also helps keep the paper and grass from flying away and gives your plants a good drink. The space you left around the base of the plants allows plenty of water to get through immediately while the grass and newspaper will allow the water to soak through more slowly.

You may need to do some minor weeding around the base of the plants but for the most part 95% or more of the weeding you normally do will be eliminated. Add more clipping during the year as needed. At the end of the year, rototill the clippings and the paper into the garden. No need to pull anything up at all. I find this works many times better than just clippings alone.

Comments

author
admin (author)2009-05-13

This is a great Instructable, but you need to add a main image of the final project to the intro step. Please do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks!

author
brodiemac (author)admin2009-05-14

All set, thanks!

author
admin (author)2009-03-23

Hey, this is a great instructable and is very informative. Just one thing is missing... pictures! It really helps a lot when trying to follow directions so you should consider taking some photographs. Once you do that and leave me a message when you have so that we can publish your work. Thanks! Thanks for the cool instructable and we hope to publish this soon!

author
Alywolf (author)2017-04-18

I do something similar, I like the look of yours after. I never thought of using grass clippings.

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luckyladyX2 (author)2011-04-28

Covering your garden with straw works just as well even after planting with seeds or anything to stop the weeds.

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AmyLuthien (author)2009-12-04

Oh that's smart!  I always hated the look of newspaper lying around the garden, but putting the grass clippings on top takes care of that!  Thanks!

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Trollfish (author)2009-11-02

I do the exact same thing and have a virtually weed free garden. We also mulch around all of our shrubbery and trees with grass and leaves collected with our homemade riding mower collection system. Have not bought mulch of any sort for two years. The nice thing, it all decomposes and adds nutrients and compost back to the garden.

author
dirtgirl22 (author)2009-07-23

I also use newspaper successfully for keeping weeds out. However, I wet the newspaper first, then carefully lay it around the plants, this helps hold it in place until you can put the mulch on top. It also makes it easier to tear the paper if you need to place around a stem of the plant.

author
guuber (author)2009-07-01

I have tried this before and I called the local newspaper about the inks in their papers and though some dailies are moving toward biodegradable inks the color pictures can be very toxic containing heavy metals which are not good for anyone?

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kirnex (author)guuber2009-07-02

I too had this question several years ago when I began this same practice. The word I got from my local paper was that the black and color inks used on the flat-surfaced (i.e. not shiny) paper are completely safe. Glossy papers (i.e. coupons, ads, etc.) are NOT good for this practice. The great thing about newspaper is that it is apparently quite high in nitrogen--obviously an attribute the plants love.

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brodiemac (author)guuber2009-07-01

I had not heard this about color photos. All the papers I get do not have any kind of a color section and the few times I do, I recycle them since they do not cover much surface area. Probably a good idea to stay away from them. Most papers (I have been told more than 90%) use a soy based ink that is fully biodegradable. I know for certain my paper does. When in doubt, call your local paper (if it still exists). :-/ Thanks for the input guuber.

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Bruster (author)2009-06-23

do the plants just grow through the newspapers?

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brodiemac (author)Bruster2009-06-24

No. What you have to do is allow gaps for the plants you want to grow. If you are planting actual plants, plant them first, lay the newspaper around the bases of the plants, then cover with grass clippings. If you are doing seeds, then leave a long narrow gap in the row where you have planted the seeds. This will allow some weeds to grow and you will have to do some (very little) weeding around the actual plants but it works great from keeping weeds down between rows.