Q. My neighbor and I are trying to make a butterfly garden between our yards.
The weeds are coming up fast and furious between our plants, and someone suggested we put down newspapers and cover them with mulch.
Does the newspaper contain anything toxic to plants, and will it prevent water getting to the roots?
Until recently I used newspaper to clean my windows, but then read that now there are additives that cause streaking.
I worry that these new additives may harm our plants.
A.Doris, newspaper makes an excellent mulch in any kind of garden, including a vegetable garden. There's nothing toxic in the newsprint, including full-color pages in advertising inserts, that will harm plants.
Over time, newspaper mulch breaks down and actually helps improve the soil. Because it breaks down, use at least four, preferably six sheets, to give yourself good coverage. Wet the newspaper and then put a light layer or hardwood mulch on top to make it look nice. Pine needles also work but they seem to slide around on top of the newspaper; the hardwood mulch seems to hug it better.
I've used the landscape fabric before and reallyy dislike it. I have a tendency to dig in my beds and add new plants or change them around and cutting through that fabric is not easy. Plus, weeds seem to get through it. Plus, newspaper is free if you can get your neighbors to keep it for you.
As for washing windows with newsprint, I hear from readers who use it and love it. I've read or heard nothing about an adverse additive in it.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times