How to Use Paper as Mulch in a Vegetable Garden


Whether you use it shredded, composted or intact, paper mulch can protect plants against frost, keep moisture from evaporating and provide a medium for eventual breakdown into topsoil. It is particularly good for strawberries, pumpkins and gourds.

Step 1

Run non-slick newspaper through a shredder. Dump shredded paper into your garden cart or wheelbarrow.

Step 2

Test soil and apply any necessary soil amendments, such as fertilizer, before you mulch your plants.

Step 3

Use a tooth rake to pull shredded newspaper against your plants to a depth of 4 to 5 inches, extending around the plant on all sides. Apply mulch to strawberry plants in late November, and mulch vine plants, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins and squash, in spring before they begin to put out runners.

Step 4

Sprinkle newspaper with water so that it will cling together. Check mulch levels daily and replace any that blows away or becomes compacted.

Step 5

Till old mulch into your soil at the end of each season.

Things You'll Need

  • Non-slick newspaper
  • Shredder
  • Ruler
  • Tooth rake
  • Wheelbarrow or garden cart
  • Water


  • John Baniecki, et al; Recycling Newspaper for Mulching Pumpkins
  • Dana O. Porter: Are Mulches a Good Idea?
  • Liz Carey: Veggie Tales
Keywords: use paper as mulch in vegetable garden, organic gardening tips, recycle newspaper for weed control, recycled soil amendments

About this Author

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.