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Pine Needles Used as Garden Bed Mulch

Updated on October 13, 2013
Pine needle mulch.
Pine needle mulch. | Source

What is Pine Needle Mulch?

Pine needle mulch comes from the actual needles of pine trees, and also goes by the name of pine straw. The mulch can come from different varieties of pine needles, but the needles have to be long enough to bale. It is a renewable resource and often a by-product from managed forests. While an organic product, it doesn't break down as quickly as other mulches which make it a lasting addition to garden beds.

Pine needle mulch comes in round or square bales, sized from 3 to 6 cubic feet. Since it is lightweight, it is a much that is easy to pick up at garden stores or deliver directly to the house. Bales can weight anywhere from 12 pounds to 40 pounds, depending the width and height of each bale.

Benefits of Pine Needle Mulch in Garden Beds

The pine needles are easy to spread in garden beds. The needles work together to keep water erosion down and prevent weeds from popping up in garden beds. Their interlocking nature is an attractive choice for many different garden bed styles. While the pine needles are lightweight, they can withstand rainstorms and wind.

  • Lightweight: The pine straw mulch is easy to distribute in landscaping areas needing mulch by simply spreading out. Since it is so light, picking up and distributing large amounts of the mulch is easy, and can be done by hand.
  • Cost Effective: Compared to other mulches like bark, pine straw is very cost effective for large areas of garden needing mulch. If it is not locally available, it is often cheaper to deliver than other forms of mulch.
  • Renewable Resource: Those looking for a renewable resource use pine needles as mulch since the trees are left standing. The pine needles are harvested from the ground after the pines have been dropped by the trees.
  • Saves Water: In areas with water restrictions, pine needles help to prevent water irrigation runoff. The mulch helps to keep the water in the ground preventing evaporation around the plants. The individual needles aren't compactable which makes for easier water filtration.

Pine needles are a renewable resource.
Pine needles are a renewable resource. | Source

Using Pine Needles in Garden Beds

Pine needles are easy to spread by hand or by rake. Use as much as is needed in the garden bed, with a generally guideline of using at least 2 to 3 inches, and all the way to 5 inches, depending on the location and depth needed. The deeper the mulch, the better job it does at water retention and weed prevention.

Allow some space between the mulch pile and the plants or trees. This helps keep insects from congregating at the base and prevent infestations before they start. Pine needles break down more slowly than other forms of organic mulch so replacing whole garden beds isn't necessary year after year. While the needles settle after spreading, they are compacted with age which helps with air circulation around the garden bed.

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