Easy & Free DIY Weed Barrier

Weeds are the bane of any home farmer’s existence.  You can pull them, but it seems like they grow back twice as fast.  You can spray them, but risk killing your veggies in the process. And who needs all those chemicals anyway?  Here’s an easy way to prevent weeds, use less water, and fertilize your garden for cheap or even free.

Weeds are more than just ugly

Weeds are ugly, but did you know that they also affect your yields in a bad way? That’s right. A study was conducted at Cornell University in 2004 that showed that strawberry plants growing in season-long uncontrolled weed growth had a 51% reduction in productivity.  Plants that had to compete with weeds produce less than half what they capable of, because they have to compete with weeds for soil nutrients.

young cabbage plants enjoying weed free effects of mulch

The good news

Mulch, a super effective weed-controller, has been around for ever and ever.  It’s long been known to prevent weeds by blocking sunlight to weed seeds.  It also helps to retain water in the soil, and breaks down slowly to provide compost-y goodness that adds to the soil and fertilizes your plants.

This particular mulch is readily available to anyone who has a lawn and subscribes to the daily or weekly newspaper.  Or to anyone who has a friend with a lawn that subscribes to the newspaper, for that matter.

You’ll need:

  • old newspapers
  • grass clippings, leaves, or straw
  • a weedy row in your garden

Step 1: Weed.

Pull all of the big weeds from your row.  Don’t worry, this will be the last time you’ll see weeds for a while.  The little guys can stay; we’ll kill them slowly by shrouding them in darkness. (Insert evil “bwah-hahaha” here).  Today, I’m declaring war on the invaders in one of my rows of Blue Lake Bush Beans.

Step 1: Pull all the big weeds

Step 2:  Lay down some newspaper.

Lay down 1-2 layers of newspaper, right up next to your plants.  I like to dampen it with the garden hose to keep it in place (especially helpful if it is slightly windy).

Step 2:  Lay down some newspaper between the plants

Step 2:  Lay down some newspaper between the plants

Step 3:  Cover with grass clippings.

Cover the newspaper with grass clippings or straw.  Dampen this also to keep it in place.  Have a look at my broccoli plants next door to the beans.  They’ve been enjoying a weed-free existence with this technique for over a month now.  They’ve told me that they’re very happy.  Don’t ask.

Step 3: Place grass or straw over the newspaper. Your plants will now be happy.

Step 4:  Grab a tasty beverage and kick back.

I know the title promised 3 steps, but I think you’ll like this last one.  You’ll be able to do this now with the time you would have spent weeding.  You’re welcome.

Step 4:  Enjoy a tasty beverage with all that extra time you'll have.

About Stacie

Stacie Humpherys is an engineer, graphic artist, and farmer who lives on her very own petite farmstead just outside of Middleton, Idaho. Say hi on Twitter.


  1. Thanks for the great info and a laugh!! Going to try this and the kick back wine afterwards! 🙂

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