How To Keep Your Flower Beds Weed Free


Mulching any flower beds this weekend? Here’s an easy trick to help keep out weeds, that won’t likely cost you a penny.

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Before mulching, weed your flowerbed by hand. Then lay down leftover newspaper (that you’ve gotten from all your coupon clipping) over any areas where you don’t want weeds to creep in.

Thanks to all of you who had great suggestions with alternatives to chemicals to get rid of weeds.  Try out this way to kill off weeds using vinegar – I’ve tried it before and it hasn’t worked for me, but I’m all for trying again. I’ll see if I can find any other homemade weed killer recipes, and update you all on how they go!

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Cover the newspaper with mulch.

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(Because this was a new bed for us we didn’t have any existing bushes to plant around, but if you do have bushes already there just adjust the newspaper around your plants.) 

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It will naturally keep weeds out, and is biodegradable too. It also helps to amend your soil if your soil conditions aren’t great as well, which is an added (free!) bonus.


We’ve used weed barrier fabric before and it works incredibly well (and doesn’t have to be replaced for years), but newspaper will do basically the same thing – you’ll just need to add more newspaper to your bed each time you mulch to keep the weeds at bay.

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With a little newspaper you’ll have free weed protection for your flower beds, and hopefully skip weeding during the summer months. If you have any other tips on how to keep beds weed free at your house, I’d love to hear your suggestions!
I’d love for you to join me over on Pinterest (I love that place!)  If you have a blog and have done a little fluffing in your home, I’d love to see it, so leave your link in the comments section. Also, if there’s a craft you’ve seen on a website that you’re hoping to make, feel free to share that link as well (I’m always looking for new ideas!)


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  1. Cynthia Bridge says:

    Instead of using the poison Round up, you can lay clear plastic on the areas on a hot sunny day, it will burn anything under the plastic, and will stop the growth. You can then spray with vinegar and boiling water on the area, and lay a thin layer of salt this will keep anything from growing…then lay your paper down. Its all natural, won’t harm any soil like the round up will. I have been doing it this way for over 30 years, my grandparents for many years before that.. <3

    • I just updated the post with the vinegar suggestion! That hasn’t worked for us so we have used Roundup on large sections (we weed most everything by hand in all of our beds, but if we have a large section of grass to kill off like we did in this bed we have used Roundup.) Thanks for the suggestions – I’m going to see if I can come up with any homemade weed killers that really do work, and I’ll let you know how it goes!

      • Actually, all you need to do is lay cardboard or thicker layers of newspaper right over the grass or weeds and they will die from lack of air and light – no need for any other application. If there are tap-rooted perennial weeds like dandelions, they will need to be pulled first (or douse them with the vinegar/salt), since they will come back eventually. But even they are weakened by the lack of light and air. Try it – we’ve done this for 20 years and it really is all you need. 🙂

      • the trick is to use 3 layers of newspaper… not one as the photo shows. I’ve been doing this for yrs… it works better than the black stuff you lay down… and if you want to plant your own plants why would you use a poison plant killer? I put it around my pond and then covered with river rocks and it’s been 3 yrs. still only get an occasional pop up of grass or weeds… honestly I think sometimes it grows in the dust that has fallen between the rocks. LOL

      • You have to use the vinegar on a hot sunny day. The heat is the key.

  2. Agreed! What is the point of using biodegradable newspaper if you are using Round Up? I encourage you to do just a little research on that product- it is really toxic! I consider myself to be pretty “mainstream” and even I am horrified by how bad it is. The newspaper is a great idea- just please don’t use Round Up!

  3. Willie Ayres says:

    Cardboard also works well and breaks down. The only problem is once you put soil over the paper layer covering the grass, you create a new area for weed seeds to grow. Mulch is your best way to prevent weeds from growing. I use leaves shredded up as they feed the soil and hold down on weed growth.

  4. My dad does this in his garden, and it has yielded great results. He sometimes puts the grass clippings from his lawnmower on top of the paper to help hold it down as well — works well in his vegetable garden (but perhaps is not the look you’re going for in a flower bed!). 🙂

    • I also use grass clippings as mulch in my gardens. I works very well, and as it breaks down, it really improves the soil. My mother transformed red clay into beautiful black dirt in a year or so using this method. You can put the grass clippings right up next to your plants, and it helps hold in moisture so you water less. I actually don’t have much space in the my flower gardens for weeds to grow, since my plants tend to overrun each other, but I use this for any empty space or for when I dig something out. You just replenish the clippings as they break down.

  5. Yes! This really works! We have used both newspaper and cardboard and I love that I don’t have to deal with yard fabric. We have also used painter’s paper from the hardware store! Recently, we built cinder block raised garden beds and used painter’s paper in the bottom of the beds and cardboard under the pea gravel.

  6. Horticultural vinegar is also available (stronger than regular vinegar).

  7. Debbie B. says:

    Thrifty Couple has a recipe for killing weeds that I’m planning on trying soon. They too, do not like to use Round-Up. Their recipe uses vinegar but with some added oomph! in the form of a few other ingredients. I hope it works.

    • Let me know if it does Debbie – I’ll try to hunt it down!

      • I use a gallon of vinegar, 1 cup TABLE salt and a tablespoon of Dawn dish soap. Put it in my yard sprue and it works great. Works better if done just after the dew dries on hot days … but I did it in the afternoon on a cool/cloudy day and it still worked. Good luck!

  8. I use the blsck planting paper but I think I will use newspaper next year.

  9. I never would have thought to lay down newspaper to my garden free from weeds. Next time I’ll have to try that before I lay down mulch. I also like the idea of using vinegar as a weed killer, as I prefer a more natural solution. Did that work out for you when you tried it again?

  10. try adding salt to the vinegar and make sure it will get at least 3-4 days sun , i always lay a thick layer ofcardboard and paper down before the dirt as well

  11. I tried this before and found that termites like newspaper. Is there something I should have done differently?

    • Oh no De! I don’t *think* it would be because of the newspaper? Termites are attracted to wood – not the paper. Would love to hear any other feedback!

    • Betty Farnsworth says:

      I’ve had the same problem. Termites were also found where my newspapers were put down. I use the weed barrier fabric. The things that do get through are very easy to put up. Paper is made from wood. I don’t know if that’s why they were there. If you are in an area that doesn’t have termite issues I wouldn’t worry.

  12. Sabrina Kollman says:

    I’ve done thick layers of newspaper with good result but it has to be redone every year. We have a big yard so that’s easier said than done. I have now switched to cardboard. I remove tape & stickers & only use plain cardboard, break it down. Double layer did not work very well as it was too bulky. It last a lot longer than paper. I think like 3 years & the weeds that do come in are on top of the cardboard so come out super easy.

  13. Tip- wet down the newspaper before you put the mulch on- it keeps the newspaper from blowing away in the wind, and keeps it in place as you spread the mulch.

  14. Awsum ideas… My granddaughters just got their new house well their parents did and we are goin to do a lil garden.. They are 3 and 1 so this will b fun


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