Using newspaper to prevent weeds

Someone in this dg recently suggested using layers of newspaper to prevent weeds. I have a 10x12 area on the side of the house that is not used for anything but always gets overgrown with weeds. It is used primarily as just a passageway between the front and back yards. Not wanting to use chemicals if not necessary, I am thinking of using newspaper with a layer of wood chips or mulch. How exactly do you lay the newspaper to be most effective? How thick of a layer? Should it be wet or dry? About how long before it has to be replaced? How does it compare with the commercial black weed prevention sheets? Thanks for any advice.
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what worked for me in suppressing oxalis. 6 to 10 layers of newspaper (even more should not be a problem) which should be damped down. Either soak in a couple of cms in a wheel barrow or mist over with a hose when down. Over lay the sheets across each other so there are no gaps. It will last no more than a year, dependant on how thick you layer it worm activity etc, before it breaks down or dissappears all together. I reckon it works very nicely and cuts out all of the weeds whilst it is down. A layer of mulch over the top will suppress most of what makes it through the newspaper over time. If you simply leave it down as you described it should be good for a least 3 years.
You could throw a mulch several inchs deep of soil and compost over the top and plant in to that. The plants roots will dig down through the newspaper. This is a system you can repeat year after year as need dictates. Newspaper and then compost, plant. When weeds start to break through more paper and compost and plant. Etc etc.
If you simply want to plant and forget about it weed mats will suppress weeds for longer than newspaper. You will need to cut through the weed mat for plants. Some plants will mix their roots into the weed mat. I much prefer using newspaper and continually building up the soil rather than laying down weed mat as a permanent dead garden. I don't recommend composting over a weed mat and building a garden over the top. In a few years time the weed mat may be troublesome as plants put their roots down. Newspaper at the same level will no longer be around. An alternative to newspaper could be cardboard. I have found that really good at the bottom of raised gardens to knock off grasses and weeds.
rob
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Andy writes:
I have read that one should avoid the funny pages or pages that use color ink as it contains chemicals that do bad things to the soil and to earthworms. I don't know how accurate that was, but avoiding those pages shouldn't be a problem anyway.
Andy
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AndyS wrote:

Some time ago, many inks were lead-based. The non-black inks were commonly leaded beyond the time that black inks were commonly leaded. This was long enough in the past that you don't even have to worry about the details. Leaded inks are no longer used in newspaper production. Inks are now vegetable-based -- even the bright colors.
What you should avoid are the glossy inserts -- but even that's a non-issue if you're not talking about an area that's going to be a vegetable garden. I wouldn't start tossing magazines into the mix, but a few ads from the Sunday paper aren't going to kill you. If it is no big deal to separate those inserts from the rest of the paper, sure, go ahead. Just don't let the work to separate them be an excuse for not doing anything at all.
If you're using newspaper, it doesn't matter if you wet it down or not, unless it's a windy day. Even then you'll want to get the mulch on top of the newspaper in short-order. Either way, use 6-12 sheets, and generously overlap them. Too much is never a problem.
For very large areas, I've had good success with large, corrugated cardboard boxes. It cuts the time needed for work down considerably. Don't use waxy food boxes, and single-layer cardboard seldom comes in pieces large enough to save you any time over newspaper.
Within two years the newspaper is going to be essentially broken down to the point that it is no longer any kind of barrier. However, by this time you'll have choked-out nearly all the weeds, and hand weeding shouldn't be a problem. You'll probably have more weeds germinating on top of where the newspaper was than below it, which would be the same as if you used the fabric.
The big problem with the fabric is eventually you'll see it on the surface. The only time I use fabric is when I'm going to put something substantial on top of it, like a paver path, or a couple inches of 1/4-minus tamped-down.
--
Warren H.

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George.com wrote:

Thanks for the helpful info. So if I plan on never planting anything in the area and keeping it permanently as a passageway between the front and back yards, it sounds like using weed mats (longer lasting than newspaper) is the way to go. Perhaps gravel might be even better. Do you agree?
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-snip-

If you want it to be [more or less] permanent- then use a good weed barrier *and* 4" or so of gravel. The weed barrier will help keep the gravel from mixing with the soil below.
Read the labels on weed barriers. Some are only guaranteed for a couple years. I've seen others that say they last 20 yrs.
Jim
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http://weloveteaching.com/landscape/gravel/gravel.htm gravel is the way to go. Ingrid

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snipped-for-privacy@wi.rr.xx.com wrote:

Thanks for the photos of your property. Gravel certainly was a great choice for you. Looks really nice. I'll show the photos to my wife and see if she wants to do the same.
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good advice from others on this issue already although I would add I have put down gravel paths and not bothered with weed mat, I just cut deep, boxed and used a lot of gravel. Likely I cut the most of the weeds out in the turf and anything left has a hell of a time poking through the gravel. Did cost a bit of $$ for the gravel mind. If you want a permanent 'passageway' consider turning it in to lawn.
rob
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George.com wrote:

The previous owner had spread gravel over much of the area earlier. It seems the gravel layer was quite thin because weeds have grown in the area since as far back as I remember. It'll probably be easier to add to the gravel rather than take out the gravel and plant a lawn. Thanks. Mike
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