En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - January 05, 2007

From: Boerne, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch
Title: Use of newspaper mulch in garden
Answered by: Joe Marcus


Before constructing a raised garden, I would like to lay newspapers at the initial ground level, then add about 12 to 15 inches of compost on top of that. Would that hurt the plants? And will the newspaper help to keep weeds below it from sprouting?


Newspapers are often used by gardeners to inhibit weed growth. In fact, some would say that the greatest value of many newspapers are as mulch, birdcage liners and fish wrappers, though we'll leave those assertions to others.

Newspaper is normally laid down on the soil surface or lightly covered with soil. Several layers work best to inhibit weeds. More troublesome weeds will require more layers of newspaper.

Placing newspapers 12 to 15 inches below the soil surface is likely to have little effect on weeds since most weed seeds sprout only when at or near the soil surface. Moreover, a thick layer of newspaper below your raised beds could have an adverse effect on drainage and soil moisture management. Here is an interesting and perhaps useful article on newspaper mulch.


More Compost and Mulch Questions

Ailing Tecoma stans from Phoenix AZ
August 24, 2012 - I have several young Tecoma plants in my Phoenix, AZ garden. I planted them in June and have tended to them over the summer. They are watered twice daily. On some of the plants, I've noticed two oddi...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting redbud from field in Edmond, OK
March 30, 2009 - I want to transplant a small redbud from a field to my yard. The trunk diam is about 1.5" and the tree is about 4' tall. What is the best way to do this? Should I plant it in a pot first?
view the full question and answer

Ground cover for sun in Phenix City, AL
April 04, 2011 - I live in Phenix City, AL and am new to planting. I have a 60 x 15 feet slope that is just dirt. I am going to till it next week and want to plant some various ground cover plants (that will grow to c...
view the full question and answer

Ground Arizona ash wood suitable for mulch?
April 23, 2015 - We cut down a 40 year old Arizona ash tree and had the stump ground into mulch. Can we use this mulch in our vegetable garden and flower beds
view the full question and answer

Native plants for Pflugerville, TX in blackland soil
March 21, 2008 - Mr. S-P, I'm perusing the plant sale list for a couple of tall shrubs to plant on the sunny southwest side of my house, in Blackland soil. It is generally dry there because of the sun, but can ge...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center