Large pine trees shed some needles a year — enough to cover the forest floor using a heavy layer. In some areas, the needles are accumulated, cleaned and baled to bundles of pine straw. On a little farm, nearly all of the operation is finished by hand using a pitchfork. Bigger operations use a tractor to produce the bales. Pine straw used in the landscape creates several advantages, including being a commodity of a renewable resource.
Pine straw offers clean, attractive mulch for flower beds, vegetable gardens and other areas of the landscape. The straw modulates the soil temperatures by keeping the soil cool during the summer and warm during the winter. In addition, it enhances the texture of the soil by loosening heavy dirt. This variety of mulch slowly breaks down, adding nutrients to the soil. Pine straw inhibits the growth of invasive weeds when spread in a layer 3 inches thick.
Pine straw adds attractiveness to the lawn with its intriguing, long-lasting color and texture. Spread out the straw to the drip line of trees to make a no-mow zone which makes the trees stick out. Line walkways and other non-paved regions of travel to provide the landscape a woodland park look. Placing the pine straw in the line of traveling stops the visitor by kicking up mud in the landscape.
Pine straw functions as a weed deterrent from the vegetable garden. Apply it to the soil in a 4- to 6-inch layer. Spread it down the aisles between the rows, keeping the straw 1 to 2 inches away from the plant’s most important stem. This kind of mulch stops grass invasions to the garden. To produce a specified border around the vegetable garden, expand the pine straw 12 inches from the outer edge of the lawn.
Pine straw supplies a unique advantage to your sloped area in the landscape. The needles interlock with one another to make a mat that does not wash away as wood or bark chips do. The capability to preserve moisture in the soil helps hold the soil in place during rainstorms. The needles are heavy enough that they do not ignore even if dry, so they stay put to anchor the dirt under them.