When it comes to mulch, you have many excellent options. Pine straw has both supporters and opponents. What is the story when it comes to pine straw mulch and is it the right option for your garden or landscape?
What Is Pine Straw?
Pine straw is mulch made from the needles of many different species of pine trees. Long-needled southern species are favored in many areas of the country. It works just like hardwood mulch chips, but it has a few characteristics that make it different.
Pine straw mulch has better water retention properties than hardwood mulch. This makes it better for your water-loving plants. It is also more acidic, so it is excellent for acid-loving plants like blueberries, rhododendrons, and azaleas.
Pine straw is natural and sustainable. Every year the pine tree drops more needles as a natural part of its growth cycle. No trees must be harvested to obtain this renewable resource. Pine straw is also easier to move and refresh than hardwood mulch.
Is Pine Straw Expensive?
Pine straw is less expensive than hardwood mulch only because it covers a larger area. Pine straw covers about three times the area as hardwood mulch. Hardwood mulch costs between $15-40 per cubic yard, covering about 160 square feet. A bale of pine straw costs about $26 per cubic yard and covers about three times as much area.
Pine Straw Uses
Pine straw is often not recommended for gardens because of its lack of weed inhibition, and it can hold too much moisture. This can cause disease to get out of control. Pine straw is an excellent choice for many landscape areas, especially natives, landscape species, trees, shrubs, perennials, and many annuals.
Pine needle mulch is an excellent choice for many areas of your landscape. It has better insulating properties than hardwood mulch. This makes it an excellent choice for areas where you want to protect your plants from cold temperatures. Pine needles tend to interlock, which makes an almost air-tight layer of insulation.
Pine needles are an excellent choice for plants with tender roots that need to be protected. Also, the added warmth means that plants tend to emerge earlier in the spring. This gives them a head start. During the summer, they protect surface roots from damage from the sun.
Pine straw breaks down slowly and acts as a slow-release fertilizer that helps build soil nutrition. One of the disadvantages is that it is lightweight and can wash away more easily after heavy rain. On the other hand, its tendency to form a mat makes it less likely to blow away in the wind. Pine straw mulch is an excellent choice for the base of a tree because it gives it a natural look.
Pine straw is an economical choice if you have large areas of landscaping to cover and do not want to break the budget. It might not be the best answer for sloped areas that get a lot of water runoff because it tends to wash away. It is also not the best choice for plants that do not like an acidic environment.
Another thing to keep in mind is that pine straw is not the best option if one of your goals is weed suppression. The structure of the pine needles allows light and moisture to penetrate the soil below. This encourages weed seeds to germinate rather than inhibit them. Plants like poison ivy, Virginia creeper, and Bermuda grass love pine needle mulch.
One solution you might try if you want to use pine straw mulch and still want to prevent weeds is to put down a layer of landscape cloth beneath it.
Pine straw mulch is an excellent way to cover irrigation system components because of its ability to mat and hide them from view but only when the water pressure will be lower.
How Much Does a Bale of Pine Straw Cover
A single 35-pound bale of pine straw covers about 50 square feet, at a depth of 2 inches. Hardwood mulch comes in 2 cubic-foot bags that weigh about 25 pounds, but a bag of hardwood mulch only covers about 12 square feet. A pound of pine straw covers about 1.5 square feet, while mulch covers about 0.5 square feet per pound. This makes pine straw the more budget-friendly choice for homeowners.
Both hardwood mulch and pine straw have their uses for landscaping. Pine straw gives the beds a more natural look and is the less expensive alternative. It is an excellent choice for many landscaping applications. Overall, pine straw is an excellent choice for many landscaping solutions. It is low cost and is an excellent choice for many landscaping situations.