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synthetic pine straw

Posted by kkelley z8bFl (My Page) on
Wed, Aug 24, 05 at 7:48

Anybody out there seen the synthetic pine straw now on the market? What do you think about it? How about the rubber mulch? Does anybody know anybody who has actually used synthetic turf? What about the 'preserved' palm trees? (They might only be interior decorations) I'm serious, I am seeing these things show up at the box stores and I want to know if anybody is using them. I'm especially interested in thoughts on the long-term environmental impact of such products.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by mjsee Zone 7, NC (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 24, 05 at 8:59

What's the synthetic pine straw made of? If it's rubber (latex) that's one thing. PLASTIC is a whole 'nother matter. Even if there is no detrimental environmental impact--I'd be worried about it smelling weird.

melanie


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RE: synthetic pine straw

According to manufacturer Textraw, it is made of 100% recycled polypropelene. Does that make it better, or less horrible?


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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by Jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 24, 05 at 18:27

Anything not natural is bad in the garden or yard.

Rubber mulch gets too hot, doesn't breathe and stinks. Polypoop-prolene just isn't worth the effort. Neither product will dregrade or add to your garden as compost.

Go natural !!

Jake


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Jake,
I wouldn't be so extreme. Is concrete natural?
I have a deck built with Trex. I believe (or at least I was told) it is made out of wood shavings and recycled paper bags. It looks great and its properties are perfect for its use.
There's a lot of neophobia in general in our society. I think each new technology needs to be analized and judged on its own merits. Even when talking about environmental impact. My trex deck may last a lot longer than a wooden one, which means less trees cut.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

I tend to agree with rleibman, "...each new technology needs to be analized..." Several years ago while traveling I noted that many highway pit stop facility plantings were using rubber mulch. This year standard bark mulches have reappeared. I wonder why?

Sorry, I could write a long answer to your question but won't. If you want to use synthetic mulches...go ahead. My opinion is of little consequence. In this area Texstraw will probably be laughed off the market as pine straw falls from the heavens in copious amounts, free for the raking.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by mjsee Zone 7, NC (My Page) on
    Wed, Aug 24, 05 at 19:40

rleibman--

Trex can make a nice deck. Concrete can make a nice path. Rubber mulch can be great under swingsets/play structures.

BUT.

Polypropylene pinestraw around plants instead of natural pine straw is NOT going to improve the soil. And if one puts it into a low-lying area,where it is certain to float and wash, then one is adding to the amount of plastic floating around in the natural world. AND--even if it stays where one puts it,when it has finally lived out it's life, one has to DISPOSE of it. (One site I saw said that it had a landscape-life of four years...so after four years one would have to bag it up and send it to the landfill.) And that doesn't begin to address problems that might result from the stuff washing into streams during heavy rainstorms, etc.

I've included a link about plastic in the world's oceans. I think I'll steer clear of plastic products when the natural stuff will work as well. (If not for as long.)

Plastic takes 40-100 years to disintegrate. Think about THAT.

melanie

Here is a link that might be useful: plastic in the sea...


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Melanie, I'm right there with you, girl. A deck is one thing, but introducing plastic into a garden environment is quite another. I am appalled that such a thing even exists. I am even more appalled that, when I first saw the bale of synthetic stuff, I actually thought it was a high grade, long leaf pine needle. I am afraid for the future when I see products like this marketed, but to be fair, if anyone has anything positive to say about it, I'd like to hear it. Kay


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RE: synthetic pine straw

When wood mulch gets mixed in with the soil...as happens inevitably as you plant or pull weeds...it will soon degrade. But shredded plastic will be there forever. Imagine trying to dig a new hole for a plant a few years from now.

When I was a kid my mom grew a huge vegetable garden. And she came up with all sorts of things to put down between the rows to prevent weeds and make it easy to walk. Finally used paper feed sacks and straw, held down with a board. One year we used those sacks made from a plastic burlap. That fall when my dad plowed under the garden, those bags got all mixed in with the soil. We pulled out bits of them for decades! It was a disaster.

This is sort of like when people using rock mulch in landscaping. Looks great for the first year and then maintenance becomes a real (and expensive) chore.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by Jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Thu, Aug 25, 05 at 14:22

It is always a good feeling when you have more people agree with you than not.

Trex is a great product for deck construction, I've called it out in several decks that I have designed.

Again anything that I put down on or in the garden or flower beds will break down and turn to compost. That's just me.

Jake


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RE: synthetic pine straw

MRSA (the drug-resistant infectious disease) has been linked to injuries that occur on artificial turf.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

I think the big issue is that so many people just don't seem to know any better or care. "Instant garden" complete with plastic mulch. So I worry that if something like this hits the market, it could be all over the place before you know it. Hopefully not.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

I haven't used synthetic pine straw but I can imagine an application where it might be just the right solution for a particular problem .
It might be just the right type of material placed under a playground structure set in an urban concrete jungle.

Or the recycled rubber mulch might be a better choice than cedar chips when spec'ed out for a community skate board park.

Synthetic lawns are looking pretty damn good these days and the process under which they are manufactured is changing by the day.
What was once autoclaved using heavy duty solvents is now being replaced by more ecologically responsible manufacturing methods.

We'll be installing an artificial turf grass putting green in the coming weeks. It will be adjacent to the 250 x 80 real lawn soccer field that is currently being laid.
When you compare the impact on the environment of the real lawn vs. the artificial turf , there is a huge difference.
The artificial turf is installed over a compacted class II base with a series of drain lines installed so there is still water percolation. There will be no need to fire up the polluting 2 stoke gas lawn mower engine or blower or edger, There will be no need for using one of our most valuable resources , water. There is no need for fungicides, insecticides or fertilizers.
When the synthetic turf wears out in hypothetically 15 -20 years from now it will probably be sent off the the recycling center to be pulverized into another artificial turf.

On the other hand the real lawn is going to suck down a lot of water, use a lot of fertilizer to keep it nice and green, is going to require regular mowing, edging , blowing and areation for the rest of its well maintained life.

So which it mo' betta in the long run ?

The answer is analyze each site specific situation and a synthetic solution may be the better choice in the long run, or not. ...
Rubber or plastic mulch in a residential garden is probably not a good choice , but place it in an urban concrete playground jungle and its the perfect solution.

Landscaping is not always green, there is a lot of gray areas inbetween the black and white.

: ~ )


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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by Jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Fri, Aug 26, 05 at 10:45

Mich -

Once again you have made some grand statements that gets the brain fired and wired. Knowing that we can decide what works best for ourselves I can't help but imagine plastic flowers popping up in the plastic mulch, little to no maintenance required.

The perfect scenery for the yuppie couple as they try to impress the CEO when he comes over for the new and improved 7 course micro-waved dinner.

Plastic cows giving plastic milk that never curdles when left on the table for several hours.

Just rattling the plastic world. I do agree w/ your acknowledgement of synthetic material and the proper uses of such. I just hope it stays limited to a small world of uses otherwise how can we survive without real dirt, real plants and real oxygen?

Jake


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Jake,
Us landscapers will continue to try to 'keep it real', but when alternatives materials that have been well thought through are available, then , well, plunk down the 'plastic' ( as in Visa/Mastercard ) and we'll take care of the rest.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by Jake z4b-5 NE (My Page) on
    Sun, Aug 28, 05 at 22:02

Do alternative materials create alternative infection when one gets an alternative sliver?

Mich I can't let this go away. I do agree with you and I am looking forward to some "alternative" materials to use in my design work but golly gee phony just isn't real enough.

I'd hate to get an alternative headache from my plastic grey goose 'tini w/ the plastic olive!!! Plastic lemon juice is bad enough.

I like to bite into the real lemon but the plastic lemons hurt my teeth.

Jake


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RE: synthetic pine straw

ding ding ding !
Tell us Bob, what did our contestant just win ? !

Well Don, she's won an all expense paid plasticize make over for herself and her home complete with double D size Pamala Anderson boobs, a new set of collegen injected Angela Jolie lips, tattoed permanent eye makeup and for her lovely new home a new veneer of Stinko stone ( stucco stone ) , a Trex deck surrounded by Astro turf complete with a set of faux wicker PVC all weather furniture !

Yippppeeeeeeee !

sign blinks to audience : Applause !

Funny thing though, I much rather have second prize, A 10 yard truck full of organic well aged steaming compost ... oh yeah, and a boob reduction.
After all these years of bending over to garden , they've gone a little south.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

So THAT'S what causes it!!! Oh no...don't let legislators hear of this. Plants will soon come with a warning "This plant has been determined in the State of Californina to promote activities which lead to permanent loss of bustline elasticity." Lord save me now......


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Please get a clue Melanie(and everyone else). The poly used for the Textraw was headed for the lanfill anyway. Instead it heads to the people at Textraw and is RECYLCED...let me repeat for all the tree-huggers....it is RECYCLED. That means it's good for the environment. Moron! Textraw is safe for the environment. It is made from a 100% post-industrial recycled product. After its useful life is over, the clean product is capable of being recycled. What product does decompose, breaks down into carbon, hydrogen, calcium carbonate and iron oxide, all harmless. Please do your research before making half-baked "hippie-like" comments!


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Troll!


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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by mjsee Zone 7, NC (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 1, 05 at 19:46

Don't you just know that bcfrazier either manufactures or sells this stuff--and found the thread through a google search? Honestly--three months without this thread surfacing--and the person comments the day after joining?

I googled the phrase synthetic pinestraw and this thread is the second hit in the string. And, wonder of wonders, the company is BASED IN GA. Where, according to his/her page, bcfrazier lives.

melanie/doing my research as suggested//would like to suggest bcfrazier read the ENTIRE thread before throwing things--mich laid out a few good reasons and examples of when said synthetic pinestraw might be a GOOD thing.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

This was a fun thread, especially the ringer post. But before I read that I was honestly going to say that maybe the stuff is recycled plastic, and could be recycled later. There was a story on NPR the other day about how Patagonia is going to start recycling their polypropylene long underwear.

I hate plastic and try to avoid it as much as possible - but reusing it somehow is better than just entombing it in landfills.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by mjsee Zone 7, NC (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 2, 05 at 14:34

Recycled or not--I still wouldn't use it in MY garden. But, I think it could be a good choice for commercial applications. Interestingly, the "ringer" didn't refute my claim that it could get out into the environment via the streams and such.

melanie the moron


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Can somebody post a picture of synthetic straw? I'm having a hard time wrapping my midwestern-farm-raised brain around the concept . . .


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RE: synthetic pine straw

  • Posted by mjsee Zone 7, NC (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 6, 05 at 17:59

Here's a link to textraw's gallery. Have fun!

melanie

Here is a link that might be useful: Textraw


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Sounds like someone in Georgia has been breathing the decomposing polyvinyl chloride fumes too long or they just got a big ole' collegen-botox injection into their face and it has gone to their head.

pop.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

An off the wall little gardening column I write for a couple of local newspapers got this whole interest in synthetic pine straw going. Before I wrote the column I wanted to know what other people 'in the business' thought about using a product like this in the landscape. After the column ran I heard from a couple of distributors who weren't real happy with me, as well as the manufacturer of Textraw, who was more informative and not nearly as harsh. Here is what he told me:

Because of environmental concerns, I spent 5 years working on Textraw
chemistry. It does not taste particularly good, but it is safe to eat.
Since it is short and has minimal tensile strength, it cannot cause the
type of problems associated with fishing line and nets. (Do you use nylon
line or nets?) 35% of Textraw is a natural mineral filler. Textraw breaks
down into its components: carbon, iron oxide, and calcium.

I'm not a chemist and I didn't know a substance made from these components (only) could form plastic. I don't really know if he means 35% is made up of those components, or some other mineral filler. Maybe he'll Google this thread, and let us know. For the record, I did Google and read every word of the websites I found trying to figure out whether it contained harmful... stuff.
I still contend that one of the main functions of mulch is to break down and return organic matter to the soil to feed the microorganisms that feed the plants, and I don't see this synthetic straw serving that purpose.
Anyway, thanks to all who have responded.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

A lot of synthetic materials are made out of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. The carbon really is the main key, because of its ability to have 4 bonds, offering it the ability to create chains of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen of immense length.

It could be safe when broken down into its elements, but how long does that take?

-Audric


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Question: the Textrax website says the stuff is made out of recycled polypropelene, from such sources as carpet backing and discarded packaging material. How can they be sure these items were not manufactured using more harmful ingredients than those listed above?
I agree, recycling plastic is the way to go. I just think it is more appropriate used in park benches than in little itty bitty bits that disperse out into the environment. Maybe the stuff isn't harmful at all, and it does look great, but I still wouldn't use it.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

What about the millions of pounds of agricultural film that reduces chemical applications and improves yields, photodegrades in a couple of years, then gets sent to landfills? Doesn't it depend on intelligent management of applications?
Organic mulches don't have any nutrient value, and when they decompose they're like a welcome mat for termites, wood rot, etc.
Just because a thing is 'natural' doesn't mean it's better for plants or the environment.


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I purchased Textraw for my home with high hopes. It discolored and Textraw is not honoring their warranty. I've gotten shifted from one person to another (on the third one now) and it has been months. They've acknowledged that I have a legitimate claim and have not come forth to replace the product.

AVOID Textraw at all costs.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

Well, sounds like most of you are going to jump all over me. But I crunched the numbers and went for the synthetic (polyester) pine straw. I put it over weed cloth in my flowerbeds in 2004 and it still looks great. It and the weedcloth have cut my weeding time by about 98%. The artificial straw contains no molds, diseases nor insects. My beds are on high ground, and the straw stays put. There is one area that gets a lot of leaves. For that, I take the straw out on the lawn on a lovely day, sit on my rolling garden wagon and shake the leaves out, bagging the cleaned straw as I go. Then I blow any remaining debris off the weed cloth and replace the straw. I understand that they now have a glue that one sprays over newly installed texstraw so that you can use a blower to get the leaves off without disturbing the straw. That might work if your planting were all perennials and you weren't planning on new plants for a while.
When I want to add a plant, I simply remove the straw from that area, cut an x in the weed cloth, plant, and replace the straw around the new plant. No problems. My spring bulbs come right up as usual.


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RE: synthetic pine straw

I googled plastic pine straw and ran across this site. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the debate. Does anyone have an opinion about the following?... Instead of adding a side driveway of concrete (and covering up what was left of the horrendous job the previous owners did with gravel and tarps as weed control), I attempted to use pinestraw that would join into the pine straw of the neighboring flower beds. However, it does not hold up to being driven on. I was wondering if I put the synthetic straw down on the driveway area if it would blend with the natural straw of the garden. Thank you for your time and thoughts.


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