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.
Run non-slick newspaper through a shredder. Dump shredded paper into your garden cart or wheelbarrow.
Test soil and apply any necessary soil amendments, such as fertilizer, before you mulch your plants.
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.
Sprinkle newspaper with water so that it will cling together. Check mulch levels daily and replace any that blows away or becomes compacted.
Till old mulch into your soil at the end of each season.