If you have any experience with pine trees, you’re familiar with the blanket of pine needles these trees drop on the ground. But did you know that these needles can be used as a mulch that helps fertilize, protect, and beautify your garden?
Mulch made up of pine needs is called pine straw. Pine straw is a popular mulch in the southern United States and is a by-product of pine tree plantation operations.1 Pine straw is “long lasting,” “light weight,” “high in nitrogen,” and “pest free.”1 Pine straw also creates a uniform look in the landscape, and the needles will form an interlock mat that will stay in place when it rains.2
Like other organic mulches, pine straw helps prevent soil erosion and insulates plant roots from extreme high or low temperatures.3 Mulch also suppresses weed growth and, as it decomposes, enriches the soil. 3
You can purchase pine straw from a garden supplier or, if you have pine trees on your property, you can gather them up and put them in your garden.
- USDA National Agroforestry Center, Pine straw—a profitable agroforestry enterprise (Lincoln, NE: USDA, 2011), http://nac.unl.edu/documents/agroforestrynotes/an37ff06.pdf
- “Mulch,” UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions, 2013, http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/planting/mulch.html
- “Mulching,” USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, n.d., http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/az/home/?cid=nrcs143_023585
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