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weeds in meadow

I have used newspaper with a layer of mulch to supress agressive, exotic perennial grass in my wildflower garden for a year. In NWF's Backyard Habitat tips, they mention that newspaper can be laid over an existing lawn, covered with several inches of dirt, and wildflowers can be planted through the covering. I am wondering if newspaper totally covering the ground would adversely affect desirable plants by reducing gas exchange in the soil or any other reason. I had left some areas free of the newspaper. Would it be OK to totally cover the ground around a desirable plant's roots with newspaper for a couple of years to remove the exotic grass rhizomes?

Backyard Expert - Cathy Nordstrum

The offending rhizomotous plant will find the light at the opening you leave for your desireable plant. For this reason it is always best to eliminate all the exotics before starting your wildflower meadow. Remember that there are some species that can be stopped by the newspaper method, and there are others that are only set back for a time, and will reappear once the newspaper breaks down. If the plant you are protecting is a shrub or small tree, it can withstand the newspaper treatment for a time, but a more delicate meadow species may be quite resentful.

I always remind myself that it took many years to build natural meadows before we came along, and now we try to create them in a few years. Keep experimenting and look to nature for your answers by taking walks in local natural meadows. Look at the soil and the plant communities and apply what you see to your own landscape.

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