Cheap, Easy Gardening

Cheap, Easy Gardening

I’m living proof that traits and talents don’t skip a generation, like the old theory goes. If they did, I’d have a green thumb just like my Grandma (and be able to sew and quilt and crochet and paint and...). Alas, I’m not known for my gardening abilities, and guess what? I have a house that faces a public street and the neighbors; this house needs something...anything...done to it so that it looks like I’m not truly cultivating weeds on purpose.

Enter in a frantic, recent web search in which I scoured pages and pages looking for something I could easily accomplish that would look decent. In short, an Easy Button (you know, like from Staples). While I didn’t find the phone number for any garden gnomes who’d come work on my garden for free, I did find something that worked for me and my weed – er, flower – bed.

Don’t Toss That Paper!

So the space in front of my house needing desperate help held a row of hedges last year that we’ve since removed. In place of the hedges are some pretty spectacular clumps of grass and dandelions and thistles. After consulting with my friend the ‘net, I dug all the newspaper I could muster out of our recycle box and set about turning the area into something more than an eyesore.

First off, I did remove a lot of the bigger weeds (though there were sites I read that said this step really isn’t necessary) from my flower bed. Next, I started laying out newspaper (the plain, black-and-white copy kind) all over the area at a thickness of six sheets and overlapping the edges. Once the ground was covered and a neighbor had come over to scoff at my efforts (no joke!), I then set about wetting it down. Lastly, I covered the whole thing with a thick coating of mulch. Voila! Instantly, the front of my house looked cared for.

Child Labor

One tip: involve the kiddos. This is a totally dirty, messy, muddy, wet job. Kids’ll love it. And actually, they really can be a help laying down the newspaper and then wetting the whole mess down with a hose or buckets of water. The day I chose to do this, there was just enough of a breeze to catch the edges of the dry newspaper; my gals pitched in and splashed water down over the paper while I held it until it (not to mention the girls and I...) was thoroughly drenched.

As Cheap As It Gets

If you don’t get the newspaper, have your neighbors, friends and/or family save theirs for you. In a pinch, you can also use paper grocery bags. As far as the mulch goes, if you don’t want to invest in fifty-seven bags of it, check with your local highway department. Ours puts out a huge pile of free mulch every year for the taking.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve also read this method works well if you want to start a garden or flower bed in a certain part of your yard. This certainly did clean up our “garden” areas in the front of our house and really wasn’t too time consuming or labor intensive for us. One thing of note, this did not totally stop weeds from coming up; but it did cut down on the number that usually flourishes in the space.


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femmefrugality's picture

femmefrugality wrote:

Thu, 05/24/2012 - 12:36 Comment #: 1

I've never heard of that before! Sounds pretty ingenious. :) We share black thumbs....

Michelle's picture

Michelle wrote:

Thu, 05/24/2012 - 18:19 Comment #: 2

My kids LOVE gardening! They actually run off the bus saying "mom, can I go water the garden?" or "can I pull the weeds?" I'm such a lucky mama!