The Q&A Archives: pine straw

Question: What is pine straw? Is it just pine needles, or shredded wood? I Have an abundance of pine needles and they usually go to the landfill. Can they be used as mulch?

Answer: Pine straw is composed of the needles that annually fall from pine trees. It has a similar appearance to straw and is therefore called pine straw. Pine needles and pine bark are great mulch materials but you'll want to use conservative amounts in your garden, except around acid-loving plants. As the pine needles decompose they release acidifying agents into the soil, which can change the soil's pH over time. Acid loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias will love the extra acidity, but many other plants won't. So use only 2-3" of pine needles as mulch in your garden and landscape. The rest can be offered to neighbors. Best wishes with your landscape.

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