pine straw /needles as mulch

eaj09(8b Coastal VA)July 27, 2008

I did a search to see if this was already discussed, but couldn't find it. So sorry in advance if it's already been covered!

Since my rose beds are expanding every year, it's getting more $$ to buy nice mulch and haul it all over my yard. We have a LOT of pine trees around here, and I noticed that Norfolk Botanical Gardens' Rose Gardens uses pine needles. I am assuming that is the same thing as pine "straw"?

I was thinking of using pine needles as mulch, but is there any danger of the soil becoming too acid over time? And every year, should I just throw a new layer of pine needles to the beds over the old stuff, or scrape off the old needles?

Thank you!

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I can't remember where I read this, but within the last year I know I've read that research was published indicating that soil acidification via conifer needles does not occur on anything but a temporary basis. Over time (a few years or so) whatever acidification initially occurs reverts back to the natural pH of the soil.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 10:33PM
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buford(7 NE GA)

Pine straw is used a lot here too (Georgia) and I doubt it makes much difference in the PH.

The things I don't like about pine straw is that it breaks down easily, tracks into the house (on your feet if you are in the beds a lot) and really needs to be refreshed every year or even twice a year. I prefer pine bark nuggets. I only use pine straw on hillsides because it doesn't slide down the hill.

Are you going to use your own pine straw or buy bales? I would leave the old pine needles and just put more on top. As I said, they break down easily and make good organic material in the soil.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 6:35AM
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harryshoe zone6 eastern Pennsylvania

If they are present on your property, you should use them.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 8:26AM
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karenforroses(z5 NorthernMI)

I get some from two white pines on our property and like it a lot - wish I had more.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 8:57AM
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roseman(Z 8A GA)

We use pine straw (same as needles)in our Memorial Garden down town. We replace it every year. We do not rake it off, but rather add the new on top of the old. It breaks down and into the soil making the soil more friable.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 9:16AM
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For me, pine straw is pretty close to being the ideal mulch. It's easy to move around when I want to scatch materials into the soil (like Mills Mix or RoseTone). I've found that my roses have far fewer problems with diseases when I remove old mulch every year. Pine straw makes that task much easier. Also, if applied at a reasonable thickness, it controls weed growth as well as other, more expensive, types of mulch.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 9:23AM
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eaj09(8b Coastal VA)

Thank you so much for all the responses. Yes, abundant amounts of pine needles are present on my property, and every fall the rose beds naturally end up being covered by the winter with pine straw anyway.

That makes me feel better!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 4:50PM
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