Why You Should Place A Piece Of Damp Newspaper Next To The Plants In Your Garden

Banishing pests from your garden can be frustrating, but there are a number of eco-friendly hacks to keep bugs out of your garden. You can keep pests out with spare PVC parts, naturally repel bugs with rice water, and even use aluminum foil to keep unwanted critters at bay. Another handy option is to use old newspapers. But if you're dealing with earwigs, sometimes called pincher bugs, placing damp newspapers around your plants can work wonders. 

While these critters can actually be beneficial, as they eat other pests (such as destructive armyworms and grubs), they can also ruin your garden if there are too many of them around. Once an earwig population flourishes, it tends to start munching on anything in sight, including seedlings and foliage. You may soon find that the leaves on your plants and flowers are left with jagged edges and covered in holes. This will usually happen overnight, as earwigs are nocturnal. Also, the damage is most likely to occur after a rainstorm, as earwigs like to use plants to hide from wet weather. Luckily, a stack of old newspapers is all you need to quickly get rid of the problem.

How newspapers can stop an earwig infestation

Before you set out to banish earwigs from your garden, you'll want to ensure they're actually the insects that are causing the problem. Slugs and snails also like to munch on leaves and can leave flora covered with similar holes and bite marks. Take a moment to check for slime on your plants –- a telltale sign that slugs or snails are the real culprit. You can also search the area for any earwigs that may be hiding under potted plants, or keep an eye out for their excrement: small, cylindrical droppings that are dark in color and can sometimes be shiny.

Once you've confirmed you're dealing with earwigs, Tony O'Neill of Simplify Gardening recommends reaching for your newspaper stack, telling Homes & Gardens, "Earwigs can be trapped using damp, rolled-up newspaper or straw placed near the base of the plant at night. They will hide in there, allowing you to dispose of them in the morning." Because earwigs thrive in dark, damp spaces, the newspaper is a welcoming environment for them and allows you to easily remove them from your plants. But it turns out that damp newspaper has another great use in your garden as a natural mulch.

Using damp newspaper to eliminate weeds

In addition to banishing earwigs, damp newspaper also offers a cheap, eco-friendly way to rid your garden of pesky weeds. Rather than using a store-bought chemical solution, you can use old newspapers to deprive unwanted weeds of light and nutrients and kill them off naturally. Without sunlight, the weed seedlings will die off before they can harm the plants around them. Newspapers are printed with non-toxic ink that will not harm your garden. Just be sure to use newsprint only, as glossy inserts don't break down quickly.

Master gardener Nancy Szerlag also supports the use of damp newspaper in the garden, but she starts placing hers around the yard during the planting process. In the spring, Szerlag recommends covering your soil with ½ an inch of compost, then placing stacks of newspaper (each made up of six sheets) on top of the ground so they overlap completely. As she wrote for Metro Detroit, you'll then want to place 3 to 4 inches of soil on top and cut holes in the newspapers for your desired plants to grow through. Finally, sprinkle 2 inches of mulch all around and watch your weed-free garden thrive.