If you live in the city, your choice may be non-organic mulch as organic may not be readily available in your specific area.

Don't worry too much about the type - the main focus is, you have a garden and you need to maintain it as cheap as possible. I have listed several types of non organic mulch below so you can research and make an informed decision which type is best for your garden.

Types of Non-Organic Mulch

Black Plastic

For excellent weed control, one layer of black plastic will do it. It's slow to decompose but will be broken down by sunlight and should be replaced every two years or so.

It should also be noted that black plastic will increase the soil temperature by about 8F in the spring. It could cause soil temperatures to be too hot during summer. This could damage the roots of your plants unless you have a good foliage cover or organic mulch on top of the black plastic. The organic layer on top of the black plastic prevents the direct sunlight. You will want to check the soil from time to time to be sure it remains moist underneath. You will need to cut holes in the plastic to allow enough water to get through if you find the soil underneath is not as moist as needed.

Clear Plastic

One layer of clear plastic provides very little weed control when used as a non-organic mulch. Actually, it provides a good climate for growing weeds. It warms the soil early in the spring by 10F or more. It is less expensive than black plastic but doesn't provide as good of results as black plastic. Clear plastic is not one of my picks for the frugal garden. It causes more work in the long run having to pull the weeds.


For optimal weed control, you'll want to use 3 layers of newspaper. It will decompose quickly and is very cheap or free. You'll want to cover the newspaper with organic mulch to hold the paper in place.


It is recommended to use only black and white newspapers.

Printers no longer use lead in ink for black and white print, however colored ink may be found to contain lead compounds Ask your neighbors for their black and white newspapers and you'll have a freebie in the garden.

Please share your advice for maintaining your garden and keeping costs low.

Do you have tips or advice you would like to share about maintaining your garden while keep costs low?

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