How to Make a Low Cost Weed Barrier for your Garden

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Organic mulch, such as wood chips, creates an effective weed barrier.
Organic mulch, such as wood chips, creates an effective weed barrier. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Garden weeds grow quickly and spread even faster if allowed to gain control of your garden. These uninvited plants seem to appear over night and soon outgrow your vegetables, robbing them of moisture and nutrients, while increasing the risk of disease. Ridding the garden of these pesky plants not only improves its appearance, it makes way for garden vegetables to thrive without competition. Creating a weed barrier prevents them from returning and saves you hours of backbreaking work battling weeds.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic mulch
  • Newspapers
  • Black plastic

Use recycled newspapers for mulch in the garden. Remove the colored pages and spread three to six layers of newspapers between rows and under plants as a weed barrier. Newspapers provide the added benefit of reducing splash back from the soil when it rains and may prevent disease spores from infecting your plants. Cover the newspapers with decorative mulch to improve its appearance.

Layer 2 to 4 inches or organic mulch in the garden. This includes grass clippings, straw, pine needles, wood chips or any other organic matter. Organic mulch provides the benefit of returning organic matter to the soil as it breaks down slowly over the course of the summer. It poses a risk of nitrogen deficiency, as nitrogen is drawn from the soil during the decomposition process. This can be remedied by applying high nitrogen fertilizer if signs of nitrogen deficiency occurs. Typical signs include stunted growth and yellowing of leaves.

Mulch the garden with black plastic. Purchase black plastic on rolls at the hardware store for a modest fee. For small areas, simply cut open a heavy-duty plastic garbage bag and spread it under your plants. Black plastic keeps soil warm and boosts production of heat-loving vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers.

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