Have you ever wondered about reusing those old piles of documents in your home office? How about using them to improve your home garden?
It turns out that shredded paper can make excellent mulch for your plants. It does a great job of suppressing weeds, retaining moisture, and improving soil fertility.
Also, reusing old paper in your house instead of tossing it away is a cost-effective and eco-friendly method to enhance your plants’ overall health.
In this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about using shredded paper as mulch. So, let’s jump straight into it.
For decades, gardeners have acknowledged the significance of mulching. It doesn’t only help with growing healthier plants. It’s also an all-natural approach to keep pests and weeds away.
There are endless options for mulching your lawn, from wooden chippings and garden compost to seaweed, straw, and even pine needles.
While not all plants love paper mulch, paper is still a safe, natural, biodegradable, and cost-effective mulch for many plant types. So, let’s take a closer look at what shredded paper mulch offers:
For budget-conscious gardeners, using shredded paper as mulch can be a lifesaver. That’s because you’re reusing old paper that would otherwise go in the trash. Plus, you’ll reduce waste as you recycle unused materials in an eco-friendly manner.
Paper also decomposes into the soil, adding organic matter, which improves the soil structure and enhances plant growth.
Shredded paper serves as a barrier for the soil’s surface against sunlight. By blocking sunlight, shredded paper prevents new weeds from sprouting as they can’t get the sunlight they need for growth.
A thick layer of paper, around 3-4 inches deep, is more than enough to suppress weeds and minimize the need for manual weeding.
Mulching with shredded paper is an excellent way to retain soil moisture by reducing evaporation. Shredded paper mulch doesn’t only protect against sunlight. It also prevents water from evaporating quickly, leaving the soil moist for a few days after watering.
If that’s not enough, the paper adds absorbent organic matter to the soil after decomposing, which is ideal for soils that drain fast, like sandy and stony soils.
Shredded paper won’t only decrease the frequency of watering, but it’ll also help your soil maintain adequate hydration in dry and hot periods.
Shredded paper takes up to six weeks to decompose, meaning you won’t have to apply it frequently. You won’t have to clean up when using paper as mulch because it decomposes naturally.
Let the paper decompose independently, and you’ll see how its fibrous content helps produce new plantations. The organic matter produced by paper decomposition can restore the organic content lost throughout the years because of erosion and tilling.
Despite the multiple benefits of paper mulch, there are a few things to remember. As we mentioned, some plants aren’t big fans of paper mulch. Additionally, not all paper types are suitable for mulch use as they might contain harmful heavy metals.
Now that you’ve learned about the benefits of shredded paper mulch, you might wonder if you can reuse the brown paper grocery bags. Fortunately, you can!
Brown paper bags are generally safe to use as mulch because they’re made from natural materials like paper and cardboard. You often see that many shops and supermarkets have stopped using plastic bags and are now opting for brown paper bags. Do you know why?
Yes, you guessed it right, it’s a safer and biodegradable option. When brown paper bags decompose, they don’t release harmful chemicals to the environment. That’s why they can be easily shredded and reused as mulch for your gardens.
However, we can’t affirm that all brown paper bags are safe to be used as mulch. That’s because some types of brown bags aren’t 100% natural and might be made of adulterated material.
For example, greaseproof brown paper bags aren’t safe to use as mulch because they contain greaseproof lining.
Moreover, mixed brown paper bags include handles and staples that are made of non-biodegradable materials such as plastic, wax, and metal.
Newspaper can serve as mulch in your garden, thanks to its ability to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and control the soil’s temperature.
However, not all newspapers are safe to use as mulch. Old newspapers (before 1990) usually contain toxic ingredients in their ink, such as cadmium, chromium, and lead.
On the other hand, most newspapers in the 21st century include soy-based ink, which is considered safe and can be used for mulching purposes.
In general, gloss, colored, and treated paper is unsafe to use as mulch. These dyes and treatments improve the paper’s quality but can release harmful chemicals after decomposition. So it’s best to stay away from this type of paper.
If you want to stay on the safe side, I recommend you contact the newspaper publisher and ask whether they use soy-based ink or not. To be on the safe side, discard any colored or glossy papers and use the rest of the paper as mulch.
Can shredded paper be used as mulch? Yes, it’s a safe, biodegradable, and cost-effective option for mulching your garden.
But remember that not all types of paper can be used as mulch. Avoid gloss, treated, and colored paper, as they contain harmful ingredients.
Finally, not all plants like paper mulch because it retains much moisture. Succulents and herbs like oregano don’t need much water, so paper mulch won’t be optimal for them.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
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