Old newspapers find new life in the garden

Jim Crethar with his paper
Jim Crethar with his paper "wall"

ONE gardening lover has found a resourceful use for old editions of The Northern Star: as a landscaping tool.

Jim Crethar has been collecting bundles of unused newspapers from newsagents and offices over the past 12 months for his latest project of building a paper wall to stabilise the earth at the bottom of his sloping garden.

Over the 32 years they've lived in their Goonellabah home, Mr Crethar and his wife Lee, a "passionate green thumb" as he called her, have created a jungle retreat in their backyard.

Walking past their home, you wouldn't guess that behind the cream brick house lies a maze of garden paths, rock features, garden beds, wood plank walkways, luscious trees, a barbecue area, a chicken coop, a mini putt-putt golf area, and even an open bungalow and balcony which is used as a creative retreat for Mrs Crethar.

Within this backyard of beauty, Mr Crethar has taken on the idea of recycling to enhance the garden: most noticeably, by using old newspapers.

First he used them in compost and layering under garden beds, protecting them from wild turkeys, before stacking bundles of news-papers to create a makeshift wall.

Mr Crethar said he'd created the paper wall as the first layer of a rock wall before, and now he's been hard at work at this new one.

After 12 months of work the paper wall now stands 2m high and is filled with more than 200 bundles of newspapers compacted by Mother Nature.

And there's still a way to go, he said.

So, why paper?

"It gets wasted and there's so much use for it," Mr Crethar said.

"Once it's wet and compact, it's like concrete," he said.

"It's a lot easier than rock."

It's an idea introduced to him by his father, who used the same techniques in his backyard, Mr Crethar said.

Naturally enough, one of Mr Crethar's sons has become a landscape artist - perhaps having caught the bug from his father, Mr Crethar joked.


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