It used to be really tough to keep up with our flower beds in our last house. Mulching alone never seemed to do much for weed control, and I needed a low maintenance garden plan I could stick to. Using landscaping fabric is only an option when you don’t plant annuals or move plants around. It can be more trouble than it’s worth otherwise.Post may contain affiliate links.
Our new (old) house has large flower beds that haven’t been looked after in over a decade. I spend many odd toddler free moments removing giant noxious weeds and poison ivy roots. I hate weeds with a fiery passion. Now that I am finally making progress, I am ready to get to the fun part!
It’s a blessing knowing I don’t have to worry nearly as much about new weeds in the beds I have cleaned out because I use newspaper and cornmeal gluten.
Low Maintenance Garden Method:
First, we layer on the newspaper.
- Weed the existing area until it free of large weeds if weeds have already taken hold in a flower bed.
- Apply a liberal amount of newspaper to the area (At least four sheets thick). A layer of cardboard will also work great if the bed is flat. Wet it down lightly with the hose. I just paper around existing plants the best I can.
- Apply mulch over the newspaper.
This simple newspaper method will keep the beds weed free the first season. By the following Spring, the newspaper will still be helping, but it is starting to break down.
So it’s time to prevent any seeds from sprouting!
Seeing as I still have plenty of flower bed wilderness to conquer, I don’t want to newspaper all the beds every year. That’s why I apply Organic Preen (same as cornmeal gluten) or Preen the following early Spring. After adding a light layer of mulch where it is needed, I sprinkle the the Preen over the top and water it in lightly with the hose.
Cornmeal gluten is natural so it is a great option for vegetable gardens or organic gardening. I mix vegetables plants in with our flowers in the backyard landscaping, so I use organic methods in those beds. I used layers of newspaper in this bed last season and it still looks great. The Preen was applied in mid April.
I try to keep up the Preen or cornmeal gluten applications every four to six weeks during the growing season after the newspaper is a year old. This helps prevent weed seeds germinating where there is any deterioration in the newspaper.
If the newspaper is laid on thick initially or I used cardboard, I can sometimes get away with going three years before repeating the newspaper process, but this should generally be done every other year.
I like that newspaper is really feeding the soil and helping to improve it over time. Cornmeal gluten is natural and has nitrogen which feeds the soil as well!
Landscaping fabric, on the other hand, hurts soil quality over time. It is a quick fix that I use in certain situations, especially with little kids that keep me away from the yard work! Long term though, its not very sustainable if you enjoy gardening and changing things up like I do!
The newspaper and cardboard takes a little effort early in the Spring each year, but when I take the time, I have a low maintenance garden to enjoy all season long.