Can I use newspaper in my garden?

Newspaper is safe to use in your garden. In a no-dig garden, I put the paper layer over the compost/manure/scraps/leaves layer -  just before adding the mulch on top - not on the ground as the first layer.
Over the past couple of decades I have started so many gardens using the very simple and affordable no-dig gardening method I shared yesterday. I have become a passionate advocate of this way of gardening having seen how effective it is in many different contexts - in improving the soil, supporting healthy and diverse gardens with annuals and perennials, and dramatically reducing weeds and watering.  I explained in this previous post why I put the paper on top of the compost layer, not on the ground first.  This is a really useful twist in the usual description of no-dig. I encourage you to read my post and give it a go.

I have made this type of garden and then headed off on a 7 week journey. When I came back, the garden was brimming with veggies, herbs and flowers. There were almost no weeds coming through and the soil felt moist and open underneath the newspaper and mulch layer.

Ever since trying to start gardens at the Northey Street City Farm in Brisbane, where even a mattock would bounce off the soil, I have been experimenting with different ways of doing no-dig.  I have settled for some time now on the method I described yesterday and I really like it because it helps to rapidly build soil and activate soil life, and the plants thrive immediately.

This no-dig garden method is easy to do and doesn't require buying in a lot of resources. I think good food is a basic human right for all and great chemical-free food does not need to be expensive to grow.

The question that pops up every time I make a no-dig garden with a group, share the idea or write about it is ... "But what about the newspaper? Isn't it bad to add into the garden?"

I am happy to use it in my gardens and to recommend it to others. My response to the concerns has a number of dimensions:

Here is some information from

I have heard that according to the organic certification bodies, using newspaper is fine for home gardens.