Shredded Paper Compost: Can It Be Used As Mulch?


The world has never been so environmentally conscious. People everywhere are trying to reduce their waste, including making shredded paper compost, and they’re doing it by finding new ways to turn waste into items that benefit the earth. With more paper being produced than ever before, it’s unsurprising that people are now starting to eye wastepaper as a new form of mulch

Can you use shredded paper compost as mulch? It depends on the type of paper that you want to use. Regular white shredded paper and recycled paper works wonders as mulch. Meanwhile, the glossy and heavily dyed paper doesn’t. 

If you’re ready to give your green thumb a go by making your own mulch, then buckle yourself up. This quick article will tell you what you need to know about making your own paper mulch. 

Can You Use Shredded Paper As Mulch?

Shredded paper, for the most part, can be used as mulch. However, there are still some quick guidelines you will need to follow in order to get the best possible results. After all, not all paper is good mulch material. 

Why Use Paper Mulch?

Mulch helps improve the quality of the soil and can also help plants grow. Mulch is used to retain water, even out soil texture, suppress weed growth, and also improve the overall look of your garden. 

Paper mulch is far cheaper than other options on the market, and also happens to give people a way to reintroduce materials into the soil in a healthy way. It’s a great way to reduce pollution and improve your carbon footprint. 

Are There Any Plants That Don’t Do Well With Shredded Paper Mulch?

Gardening is definitely a hobby that runs the gamut from the simple to the demanding. With most trees and bushes, using shredded paper as mulch will be perfectly fine. If you are looking to mulch areas where plants native to your area grow, all the better. 

However, there is a small chance that your plants will not take well to shredded paper compost mulch. This most commonly happens with plants that dislike dead leaf mulch, such as the following common names below:

  • Woolly-leaved plants. Things that have “woolly leaves” or peach fuzz on their leaves are generally built for dry weather. Mulch, including paper mulch, can often keep roots too damp. 
  • Cacti and succulents. Paper mulch has a tendency of locking in moisture. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for succulents. Stick to rocks here!
  • Culinary herbs. Though this isn’t always true, many culinary herbs like sage will rot if they are kept in soil that’s too moist. Considering how long paper can stay soggy, you might want to opt for gravel or wood instead. 

Is Mulch Always Necessary In Gardens?

Though it can definitely boost your garden’s appearance and even help your plants have healthier lives, you don’t have to use a mulch to get a good garden. Even though it’s not necessary, it’s still a great bonus and can offer a great way to recycle. 

How To Make Your Own Shredded Paper Mulch

Making your own shredded paper mulch is actually fairly simple. All you need to do is place paper in a shredder and bag up the shreds. That’s all you need to do, which means that it’s one of the easiest ways to DIY mulch. 

What Paper Is Best For Mulch?

Napkins, white paper, newspaper, and shredded recycled paper tend to fare best when you’re trying to make mulch. That being said, there are some types of papers that don’t work out well for this process. These include:

  • Colored Paper. The dyes and compounds in a colored paper tend to fare poorly with soil. 
  • Treated Paper. Plastic-sprayed paper and laminated paper will not work as mulch, and may even harm local wildlife. 
  • Glossy Paper. Even a light gloss spray can make it difficult for something to grow. 

Does Paper Mulch Improve Soil Fertility?

Depending on what material your mulch is made from, mulch can improve the nutritious aspect of the soil fairly deeply. It’s clear that certain plant-based mulches can be massively beneficial to soil, but what about paper mulch?

Fiber from paper can help boost the overall quality of the soil, but it’s no match for standard fertilizers. If you want to make your mulch even better for your plants, consider doing the following:

  • Add plant food to your mulch. This can help provide extra nutrients that paper alone won’t offer. 
  • Mix high-quality compost with your mulch. This offers the best of both worlds. 

Problems With Paper Mulch (And How To Solve Them)

Though shredded paper can make a great mulch, it definitely has its drawbacks when compared to your standard woodchip goods. Thankfully, there are fairly easy ways to make these problems go away. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are The Biggest Problems With Paper Mulch?

Truthfully, paper mulch isn’t that bad. It can be very beneficial to soils that require a little extra moisture and also doesn’t have the typical smell of certain mulches. It also is the most affordable mulch out there. 

However, it can be pretty flimsy when compared to woodchips or other more popular forms of mulch. It also has a tendency of blowing away in the wind if you aren’t careful. When poorly applied, it can turn into a litter issue. 

How To Deal With Paper Mulch’s Problems

These two small issues are truly not that big a problem. All you need to do is take a little extra care when applying your paper mulch. Here are some quick and easy tips to follow:

  • Make lots of mulch! Since paper mulch is a lot lighter, you’re going to need to layer it on extra thick. A good way to make sure you have enough mulch for your garden is to make more (a lot more) than what you would typically use with wood mulch. 
  • Add soil and/or compost on top of the mulch. This is the easiest way to maximize your soil’s nutrient level and keep down mulch. It’s actually the preferred way to avoid shredded paper flying away. 
  • Layer your mulch on days with low wind. Trying to place the shredded paper on the ground on a windy day isn’t going to be easy. It’s best to wait when the wind dies down. 
  • Avoid dyed paper. This can cause chemical leaching and acidity issues in more sensitive soil. Even if your soil is hardy, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • If you want to mix mulch and compost, go for it. This wouldn’t work with many other forms of mulch, but it does well with shredded paper. A little bit of wet compost is all you need to make this work. 

Should You Just Keep The Paper Intact Instead?

Though shredded paper is a great go-to mulch, there are times where having full sheets of paper can be a better option. If your main reason for mulching is to block out light, a sheet of newspaper topped with compost is often a better choice. 

Truth be told, the type of mulch you use all should be based on what your plants need. When in doubt, read up on the topic to find out what is best for your garden’s unique needs.

Eyerly Family

The Eyerly Family is a family of 8 that loves gardening. Over the past several years we have been applying what we learn about gardening to our own 16x16 raised back yard garden. Our garden is very prolific and we grow a wide variety of vegetables which we love to eat! Click here to learn more about the Eyerly Family.

Recent Content