Spend Less Time Weeding Your Garden


Weeding and watering are a big part of growing your own fruits and vegetables. But wouldn’t it be nice to spend less time weeding, and more time enjoying the fresh produce? I want to share a tip that we are using this summer. We are actually doing this because our crotchety rototiller decided that no amount of persuation was going to compel it to run this year. No tiller means more good old-fashioned hoe-and-hand weeding.

So I thought it would be good to try mulching the garden again this year. I think my mom was the first person I learned this tip from. Although, I would love to know why she did not employ this tip herself when I was a kid. I guess having kids equals free labor. I have memories of working in her garden in the hot sun, fighting miserable clouds of gnats.

Anyway, to mulch your garden and hopefully decrease the growth of weeds, all you really need is newspaper and straw. I do not get a daily paper, so I had to find a source for this. The surgery center that I work at receives a daily paper that used to get thrown out at the end of the day. I checked with the receptionist to see if they could save them for me. But she said another nurse was already claiming them to read.  So I talked to my co-worker who agreed to pass them on to me when she was finished. She also very kindly collected me a stack from a friend of hers.  So check with friends, neighbors, and co-workers if you don’t have newspaper already. Most people are happy to help.

To get our straw, Wade stopped by a local farmer who sold it to him for $2 a bale. This was cheaper than the straw we had purchased at the local feed mill last year for our pig pen. Another option that we have used and is free, is to bag the grass clippings when mowing the grass. The clippings can be used instead of straw.

Now you are ready to mulch! It’s easier if it’s done as two-person job. One person lays the newspaper, and the other follows along with the straw. If you have enough newspaper, lay it at least two layers thick, and try to overlap the pieces. I also advise picking a day that isn’t very windy…not that I would know from personal experience or anything! Try to be generous with the straw as well.  We have had trouble with weeds still wanting to come thru the paper, and I think laying thicker newspaper and straw might help.

Newspaper 2.jpg              Strawing.jpg

Garden helper

I also recommend wetting down all the paper and straw with the garden hose when you are finished. This will help keep it from blowing away, and having newspaper all over your yard if  when a breeze starts. It really is annoying, and defeats the purpose, if the newspaper won’t stay in place!

Hosing garden straw

Once you finish hosing it all, the job is complete. Now you can spend less time weeding the garden, plus the straw and paper can hold in more moisture for your plants too. Instead you can sit in the shade with a glass of lemonade, and enjoy how pretty the garden looks!

Mulched garden

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27 thoughts on “Spend Less Time Weeding Your Garden

  1. this year we are trying a strawbale garden but this is such a great idea! and the straw and paper will feed the soil for next year! I think (for your mom) it was a great way to keep her kids busy!

    1. What is a strawbale garden? Do mind sharing some details about that? Also as my kids are getting a little older, I understand more about giving kids jobs to keep them from pestering. 🙂

  2. I will have to try this next year. I built raised gardens because I just don’t have time to weed a large regular garden, but I don’t have enough space for the usual amount of beans and peas I usually grow for canning and freezing. Thank you for sharing your experience with doing this!

  3. What a great idea! This is one that needs to be passed on! Thank you for linking up at Funtastic Friday!

    1. I’m glad for the opportunity to share at the linkup. I’ve met some nice people already.

  4. Your garden is beautiful. I dream of one that big. Maybe when I retire…
    🙂 gwingal

    1. Thank you. This year it has really turned out the best for us. We usually fall behind in caring for it, but my husband is trying to keep up with it this year.

  5. Laura

    Looks good Char. I think you and Wade got trained pretty well. your garden is beautiful

  6. Wow. I am jealous of all of the space you have there! We live in suburban Salt Lake. The yards here are fairly small. We use the wood shavings and chicken poo from our coop to “mulch” our garden. It works FABULOUSLY. We get the most lovely soil! (And that is saying something cuz Utah soil really is sub-par. I grew up in Iowa and we had much better dirt!)

    1. We are trying a composter for our chicken manure and shavings. Our garden definitely needs a fertilization boost. My husband was talking about getting some horse manure. Iowa has lots of farmland from what I’ve heard right? Never have been there, but my husband is from Indiana.

  7. Annie Gaddis

    We use 2-3 year old wood chips. They are great to add into the soil when you dig it up the following spring, and they don’t blow away!

    1. Thanks for that tip Annie! It’s good to hear other ways that work too.

  8. This is a great idea. I’ve seen a lot of people try this or something similar. We are going to try and use cardboard to keep the weeds back this year. We used some around some individual plants last year and worked pretty well.

    1. Thanks! Best wishes and happy gardening this year!

  9. Omg is that your garden, Char??!! Wow! It’s stunning!! Btw, I can’t even properly grow basic herbs 🙁

    1. Thanks Shamira! That’s last year, and my husband should get most of the credit. 🙂

  10. Stopping by from Sunday’s Best Linkup. I’ve been using this method to help keep weeds down for years. If I don’t have newspaper, I used cardboard boxes that have been broken down. Your garden looks great! Looking forward to seeing more of your posts.

    1. Thanks for visiting Rhonda. We haven’t tried cardboard but I’ve heard of at least one other person who has. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Your garden looks great! Weeding is a big and unpleasant chore… 🙂

    1. Thank you! This was last year’s garden, we need to get started planting this year.

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