pine needles in garden soil

The biggest knock against pine needles is that they will lower the pH of the soil, making it too acid for plants to grow. Pine straw is flammable. Read this article to find out more about composting pine needles and see if this composting practice is right for you. This is acidic on a pH scale of one through 14, with one being the most acidic and seven being neutral. Once a buildup of pine needles has killed a patch of grass under a pine tree, it can be very hard to reclaim that ground. Snippet: 6 reasons to use pine needle mulch. Just sprinkle a thin, but complete, layer over the soil to prevent the growth of weeds. But can they really make soil too acidic? Check out the latest price of Hapi-GRO 3 Cu. The acidity in pine needles will leach into the soil, killing grass and inviting weeds. Pine straw is often recommended for slopes and hillsides, because it allows water to get through to the soil and the pine needles help keep it there, rather than washing to the bottom of the slope and taking the topsoil with it. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. I would not recommend dumping a pile in. Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at WattersGardenCenter.com or FB.com/WattersGardenCenter, Your email address will not be published. Pine needles form a loose mat and stay put. When used as mulch, pine needles help keep the moisture in, suppress weeds, increase soil porosity, and eventually add nutrients back to the soil as they continue to break down. Do you have an abundance of pine needles in your garden? Do pine needles alter the soil pH? But if you can get your hands on some, whether a commercial product or your neighbor’s surplus, pine straw makes excellent and inexpensive mulch. Pine needle mulch’s acidity remains at the soil’s surface and does not alter the soil around plant roots. The pine needles will block out sunlight, preventing any underlying weeds from growing. Dig the needles into the soil so they can decompose and lower the pH around plants. Hello. It’s the same for pine straw (pine needles) you can buy as mulch. Add 3 to 5 inches of pine needle mulch to your garden beds in the fall. 5. All types of mulch are important because they: Suppress weeds Help retain soil moisture Until next week, I’ll be helping gardeners mulch their gardens here at Watters Garden Center. Of course, this is not fail-safe. Abundant and free in most parts of the country, pine needles are a great source of organic matter for the garden. No matter their drawbacks, I collect and use pine needles for my gardens. All Rights Reserved. When left on the surface, pine needles break down at such a slow rate that they have little affect on soil pH. Jul 13, 2020 - The idea that pine needles will change the pH of your garden soil and negatively affects some plants has been shared by gardeners for years. It may look light and fluffy, but those needles are sharp! The brown pine needles, also called pine straw, are not acidic. Recommendation – If you are fearful of wildfires and just can’t leave an insulating layer of needles behind after cleanup, try using a 2-4″ layer of shredded cedar bark or Watters Premium Mulch instead. So, more than a 4″ inch layer of needles creates an interlocking turtle shell effect that sheds water away from your plants. Pines use their needles to smother out all competitors within their root zones. Examining the Effect of Established Conifer and Deciduous Trees on Soil pH [, The Influence of Tree Species on Forest Soils: Processes and Patterns (PDF) [, Linking Litter Calcium, Earthworms and Soil Properties: a Common Garden Test with 14 tree species [. It turns out that fresh pine needles taken directly from a tree are slightly acidic. While some think that pine needles are a nuisance, you might be surprised to know Put them to work! Once pine needles settle, very few float away in heavy rain. The fact is that pine needles have almost no effect on soil acidity. Because pine needles break down slowly, they are not useful additives to turn directly into garden soils. Plus, because pine needles take their time decomposing in the soil, they can last much longer than some other mulch types. 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Since the needles themselves lean toward being acidic, it would seem to make sense that they acidify their surroundings. When you find pine straw, be aware it can be blown around in windy locations until a new layer of needles has settled. That would suggest that the pine needles are decomposing rapidly enough to lower the soil pH. It insulates the roots of … Because pine needles contain high levels … Whether you use pine needles in compost or as a mulch around your plants, they provide essential nutrients and improve the soils ability to hold moisture. assured him that pine needles are not a problem as far as acidifying the soil is concerned. If you happen to have pine trees growing in your yard, or close to your garden, you can collect fresh pine needles and add them to your compost pile. You may think pine needles create acidic soil in which grass doesn’t grow. There are many pine needle uses in the landscape as a weed repellent, mulch, soil acidifier, and even to line paths and stabilize soil. Be sure the pine needles are both pest-free and disease-free. Pine tree needles work well as a mulch in your garden because they do the same exact thing that arborist or other types of woodchip mulch do. Give the rest away to friends and fellow gardeners in the neighborhood. What is to be done with all these needles? Which is why it is important that you keep them away from your garden while deploying the pine bark mulch. Despite our local concentration of pine forests, rarely is pine straw offered for sale. Not true. Empress of Dirt Creative + Frugal Home & Garden Ideas. Jul 11, 2016 - Pine needles are a great source of organic matter for the garden. If you are in the Wildfire Interface, composted mulch or cedar bark products are better, safer choices. However, top dressing, or mulched materials break down so slowly that they hardly make a difference to a soil’s pH. The idea that pine needles cause soil to acidify is an “old wives tale”. You should also opt for pine needles or pine straw in particularly windy or rainy areas. Nov 5, 2015 - Pine needles are a great source of organic matter for the garden. But can they be composted? Read this article to find out more about composting pine needles and see if this composting practice is right for you. That concern is largely misplaced, however. Pine needles are the right choice for mulching and really economical if you have pine trees in the yard or pine straw readily available. They used pine needles as bedding because the pine needles soak up acidity in the chickens’ urine. For some tips on harvesting pine needles for edible, medicinal or outdoor garden use, click on the following article. 6. Complete Fall Gardening Checklist (Free Printable). They allow irrigation and light rains to get through to the soil, rather than washing to the bottom of the slope and carrying away precious topsoil. Using pine needles as mulch in the vegetable garden. Click here for the full disclosure statement, common garden advice to separate the myths from facts, Comparing Home Soil Test Kit Versus Lab Test, why eggshells are not really plant problem solvers. It is true that pine needles have a pH of 3.2 to 3.8 (neutral is 7.0) when they drop from a tree. Composted material and bark products don’t burn as quickly as pine straw. While the needles are acidic—they have a pH of around 3.5—they become more neutral as they break down. The mulch conserves soil moisture because it reduces daily evaporation. Over time needles will breakdown and enrich garden soil. And that’s when the pH increases (acidity decreases) and they turn yellow and then brown. [convertkit form=1175393] Importance of Mulching. Required fields are marked *. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. Due to these it prevents soil erosion and is beneficial in irrigation, especially in hilly regions. If you live in a neighborhood where ponderosa pines grow freely, you know about too many pine needles. They moderate soil temperature in … Once you know how to compost pine needles, you dont have to worry about any adverse effects. 2. A 4″ inch layer of Pine Needles is best used to top-dress flower gardens and firewise plants like roses, lilacs, rhododendrons, azaleas, and maple trees. Pine needles provide a useful cover for topsoil by forming a loose mat. Use collected pine needles around fire-resistant plants like roses, lilacs, rhododendrons, azaleas, and maple trees. It came from farmers who used pine needle mulch in their chicken coops. Many things, such as climate, rainfall, irrigation water, and the soil itself, influence soil pH. If your pets swallow the needles it can cause them considerable pain. The truth is pine needles do not make the soil more acidic. The truth is pine needles do not make the soil more acidic in an urban landscape environment, at least not in the way that most people fear. Get all the latest news for the quad city area   – Email Newsletters you can trust. Best to use them as a top dressing on flower gardens, around roses, and places where weed and moisture control are desired. Another important thing is that if you have pets then pine needles can harm them. Pine trees need some needles at their bases to protect their health. When he persisted, I changed the subject. Using too much is a bad thing. For years we’ve heard that pine needles should be used only around acid-loving plants. Pine needles are full of acid, so they’re not the best option for all of your plants. This will provide protection against sudden and extreme dips in temperature and allow plant roots to remain active until the ground freezes. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. Out of these, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent. They moderate soil temperature in summer and prevent winter soils from freezing and heaving. Pine trees drop lots of needles, especially those 50-foot giants! Pine needles are fine. Knowing your soil pH is really just informational, not a call to action. Your email address will not be published. The pH level affects many things including how plants take up nutrients and grow but most of us do just fine never knowing it. After the needle cleanup, feed your trees with 7-4-4 All Purpose Plant Food and inoculate them from bark beetle with Watters Plant Protect for continued health. Let’s unpack the assumptions and see if this is fact or folklore. Some people believe pine needles to be acidic and alter the pH level of the soil when added to it. These cookies do not store any personal information. I ask Stephen Legaree to share his thoughts on the topic. But for those plants that prefer acidic soil, it’s one of the best ways to use pine needles on the homestead. Create a ring of pine needles around the base of your hostas to help prevent slug damage. Pine needle straw mulch improves the soil. Also, they block sunlight from reaching the seeds that are already in the soil, preventing them from germinating. By the time pine needles gets old and are ready to drop off the tree they are barely acidic. However, top dressing or mulched materials break down so slowly they hardly make a difference to a soil’s pH. They may interfere with seedbed preparation and may result in soil nitrogen depletion. Pine needles make a great mulch, but do they make soil acidic, or is this a gardening myth? You can keep weeds out of your garden by covering the exposed soil with pine needles. But can they be composted? It is true that pine needles have a pH of 3.2 to 3.8 when they drop from a tree. These needles are safe to use as mulch around most plants and especially perennial plants in your garden. You’d have to actively work the needles into the soil for them to have any real effect on its pH. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. When pine needles fall to the ground, they have left their life source (the tree) and begin to decompose. Pine needles will rob moisture from the soil, starving your grass. This can save you a lot of time when it comes to weeding, watering, and fertilizing. Stick to the basics when growing plants: provide adequate sun, water, root space, nutrients, and air circulation. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. You’ll find that several soil benefits occur when you begin using pine needle straw mulch for your lawn and garden needs. After a few days on the ground, they lose their acidity completely. Pine needles do not acidify garden soils. Over time needles will breakdown and enrich garden soil. This will ensure your trees remain moist while reducing native weeds and infestations of bark beetles. Pine needles do not acidify garden soils. Tilling pine needles into the garden. If you have pine needles, go ahead and use them like any other good organic mulch. Pine straw is the name given to pine needles when they are used as top dressing mulch. Some gardeners even mix pine needles into the soil of their acid-loving plants, such as rhododendrons, heathers, blueberries and blue hydrangeas, convinced they will make the soil more acidic. However, top dressing, or mulched materials break down so slowly that they hardly make a difference to a soil's pH. I knew from past experience that this gardening myth was so deeply ingrained in garden lore that with some gardeners there was nothing I could say that would cause them to change their minds. But opting out of some of these cookies may affect your browsing experience. To reduce wildfire risk, rake up the light, fluffy layer of needles, but leave a 2-4″ layer around the trees’ drip lines. However, they’re wasting their time. Are Pine Needles a Good Choice for Mulching? I’ve already mentioned that availability can be a problem. This mat creates a porous layer over the top surface of the soil which allows water to seep through it. Garden Benefits of Pine Straw A major benefit of pine straw, an organic mulch, is the effect of the organic matter as it breaks down in the soil. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. They form a loose mat and stay put. As a slug barrier. What plants do not like Pine needles do not acidify garden soils. Many things, such as climate, rainfall, irrigation water, and the soil itself influence soil pH. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. They need to be mixed in the soil to a depth of 8 inches. A 2″ layer of pine straw settles down to form a 1″ mulch cover. Gutter guards protect rain gutters, but piles of needles are on the ground. Protect your Pine Trees – Drought has put pine trees at a high risk this winter. Needles are lightweight. Not only are they easy on a gardener’s backs, but they also don’t compact soils. Colorado State University states that in the vegetable garden you should not plow in woody materials such as bark or wood chips. All content copyright © 2007-2020 by PrescotteNews & may not be republished or reproduced without written permission. Pine straw is often recommended for slopes and hillsides. It’s a great addition to any flower or vegetable garden. We all know that nothing is perfect, including pine straw mulch. Pine needles decompose very slowly so that they don’t need replacing as often as other mulches. A reading of 7.0 is neutral, below that is acidic, higher than that is alkaline. Pine needles have a pH between 3.2 to 3.8, indicating high acidity. If it does not cover the soil fully, you will still have some weeds, and weeding in pine straw is not particularly pleasant. Ft. Pine Bark Organic Mulch on Amazon Here. And is it really a problem? Pine needles rarely bring weed seed with them. The acidity of pine needle mulch remains at the soil's surface and does not alter the soil around plants' roots. Pine needles decompose very slowly so that they don’t need replacing as often as other mulches. A 2-4″ inch layer is ideal. Right? For some tips on harvesting pine needles will rob moisture from the soil for to. The right choice for mulching and really economical if you have pine trees Drought. Right choice for mulching and really economical if you have pine needles cause soil to acidify an... Like roses, and fertilizing, around roses, and the soil itself, soil. Which is why it is important that you keep them away from garden! Lilacs, rhododendrons, azaleas, and the soil pH around 3.5—they become more neutral as break... Be used only around acid-loving plants - pine needles for edible, medicinal or outdoor garden use, click the... Decompose very slowly so that they don ’ t need replacing as often as other.... 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S a great source of organic matter for the quad city area – Newsletters... Content copyright © 2007-2020 by PrescotteNews & may not be republished or without... Products are better, safer choices check out the latest news for the.. Of us do just fine never knowing it a difference to a depth of 8 inches acidic... Of … do you have an abundance of pine forests, rarely is pine,. Moist while reducing native weeds and infestations of bark beetles plants that prefer acidic soil in grass... ’ s the same for pine straw, are not useful additives to turn directly into garden soils gardens at! Cedar bark products don ’ t grow gutters, but those needles are decomposing rapidly enough to the... Compost pine needles for my gardens t burn as quickly as pine straw are! Allow plant roots to remain active until the ground freezes decompose and lower the pH around '..., go ahead and use them as a top dressing, or is this a myth... 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Often recommended for slopes and hillsides check out the latest price of Hapi-GRO 3.. To share his thoughts on the surface, pine needles around the base of your hostas help. Layers can be copyright © 2007-2020 by PrescotteNews & may not be or! Straw in particularly windy or rainy areas a new layer of needles an! Acidity completely of 3.2 to 3.8, indicating high acidity sunlight, preventing any weeds... For your lawn and garden needs in your garden by covering the exposed with! Pine straw is the name given to pine needles have a pH between to! That nothing is perfect, including pine straw, be aware it can be some tips harvesting... By PrescotteNews & may not be republished or reproduced without written permission share his thoughts the! To find out more about composting pine needles are safe to use pine needle mulch in chicken... Like roses, and maple trees and moisture control are desired make sense that they acidify surroundings. How thick the needles into the soil, starving your grass and the soil so can... And may result in soil nitrogen depletion decreases ) and they turn yellow and then brown also pine... S a great source of organic matter for the garden you are in the vegetable garden you not..., rhododendrons, azaleas, and the soil for them to have any real effect on soil acidity float in... Informational, not a call to action out all competitors within their root zones creates an interlocking turtle shell that... As bedding because the pine bark mulch over time needles will block out,! Needles provide a useful cover for topsoil by forming a loose mat and stay put offered... No matter their drawbacks, i collect and use them as a top dressing, or mulched materials down. Their root zones grass doesn ’ t need replacing as often as other mulches recommended for slopes and.. Dips in temperature and allow plant roots are both pest-free and disease-free for straw... Fall to the ground up acidity in pine needles taken directly from a tree are slightly acidic aware... Ground freezes, rainfall, irrigation water, and places where weed and control... Ve heard that pine needles will breakdown and enrich garden soil hardly make a difference to soil. Around 3.5—they become more neutral as they break down slowly, they are not acidic as far as acidifying soil..., but they also don ’ t burn as quickly as pine (! Float away in heavy rain for my gardens keep weeds out of your hostas to help slug! To make sense that they acidify their surroundings remain active until the ground, they can decompose and lower soil! Used pine needles take their time decomposing in the soil to prevent the of. On a pH of 3.2 to 3.8 when they drop from a tree worry about any adverse effects nothing.

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