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Yes, newspaper will 'invite' some unwanted critters.
There's Weed Block in any store that sells gardening supplies. But it's only good for a few years. Also, 3-4" of mulch should work. THing is, you need to maintain that 3-4". That means that you may need to 'add' mulch 2-3 times per growing season (assuming you live in a location like the NE ...)
Weeds are God's gift.
My best to ya and hope this helps.
Jay J -Moderator
PS: God Bless America!
The market provides a number of commercially available products for weed control in the garden that do not involve chemicals. Most of these are rolled black plastic sheeting that one lays on the ground and "staples" into place to prevent weeds from growing and to hold moisture in the ground. To plant in sucha garden, one needs to cut holes in the plastic where the plants will be set. Of course, without some sort of "under-the-plastic" watering system, one can see that while the plastic might keep the weeds down and keep initial moisture in, it also keeps the rain out....???
There are some commercially available products out there that are based more on fabrics that engineers and contractors have used for a number of years for erosion control. They're woven and non-woven rolled sheeting that use a variety of materials, some of which can be used for weed control, still allowing water to penetrate. Check your local garden center to see what's available.