Pine Needle Mulch
When and where to use it
Mother Nature sure knows how to provide the perfect conditions for
growing pine trees – laying down a pine needle mulch to squelch weed
growth and give the pine trees the particularly acid soil that they need
Other plants that like a pine needle mulch are Rhododendrons,
blueberries and Arctostaphylos. Oddly enough, these are all what is
called ‘ericaceous’ plants – those that have fine hair like roots, urn
shaped flowers and absolutely need high pH soil to survive. In lime
(alkaline) soils, or with the addition of dolomite lime, these plants just dwindle to nothing.
needle mulch collects for years under pine trees (and other coniferous
trees that get labeled as pine trees), making a soft resilient carpet.
odd hush under really old pine trees is created by the pine needle
mulch deadening all sound. Digging down into the duff illustrates how
this happens. Generally, a fungus starts to form, with many pale
coloured hyphae, or roots.
This holds all the lower layers
together, and makes a sponge covering the ground. This protects the
usually sandy soil from erosion from heavy rainfalls, and prevents the
evaporation of the moisture.
The only drawbacks to using pine
needle mulch are that it’s precariously slippery when dry, and also a
fire hazard if you garden in a wildfire danger zone. Use a different
type of mulch if you’re fire smart gardening.
advantages to using pine needle mulch is that it’s easily replenished
(pine trees drop their needles once a year) and it’s light and easy to
spread in a uniform layer.
To make your own garden mulch from pine
needles, rake up the needles into piles, and then run them through a
shredder if you have one. Otherwise, composting the needles in a pile
will help break them down a bit. Then once they’re spread out under the
plants, they’ll pack into a solid yet breathable mat.
with mulch gives you the opportunity to salvage and re-use otherwise
wasted materials such as what the trees drop. Utilize these free mulching
materials whenever you can to provide all the mulch benefits such as
moisture retention, weed control and beauty in your garden.