If you live in the South, the decision to use pine needles or mulch is a real dilemma and a question we get asked consistently. Most homeowners only want to have to redress their natural areas and beds once. If you’re reading this you may want some clarity on why people you might want to use one type over another. Do you need to redress or freshening up your landscape beds? There are couple of different options depending on the nature of your landscape as well as your preference. Shredded hardwood mulch is usually used in most parts of the country. However, you may want to consider pine straw or pine needles as an alternative over mulch in some cases. What does your property look like? Is it on a steep slope? Is your driveway allow for easy access with a trailer or large dump truck? Does your property have large trees with lots of leaves? What time of year is it? The answers to these questions will help you determine which product will work the best for your specific situation. Many times homeowners will mix materials as well based on the needs of the property and budget. The best option between the two depends solely on personal preference. Consider the following points below before making a decision on which to place in your landscaping beds.
Benefits of Using Pine Needles
The advantages of pine needles over mulch include:
- Low Maintenance: Pine needles require little maintenance as it does not wash out of beds as mulches tend to, thereby keeping your walkways cleaner. Furthermore, it breaks down slowly so frequent topping up is not necessary.
- Improves the Soil: Pine needles improves the soil in numerous ways. It prevents soil compaction by reducing the effect of rain on the soil’s surface. By protecting the soil from rain and wind as the needles hold together and interlock under extreme conditions, erosion is prevented. Furthermore, pine needles insulates plant roots from high/ extreme temperatures and reduces evaporation by conserving soil moisture.
- Visual Appeal: Pine needles are aesthetically pleasing to the eye as they have a uniform color coupled with a fine texture. It also keeps your beds and gardens fresh and clean by preventing water or mud from splashing up onto your plants. This makes it preferable when compared with mulch to lots of people when it comes to the aesthetic look.
- Environmentally Friendly: Pine needles are more environmentally friendly as heavy grinding machine is not required to manufacture it.
- Low Cost: Pine needles are easier to place in the beds and also cost about ½ as much as mulch.
- Erosion Control: Pine needles are the best solution if your property is on a steep slope. They will hold where most mulches will slide or float during rain storms.
Benefits of Using Mulch
The advantages of mulch over pine needles include:
- Improves the Soil: Mulch offers a better moisture barrier for plants.
- Visual Appeal: Cleaning up leaves and shrub trimmings out of mulch is much easier.
- Low Maintenance: Weeds are prevented from growing around your plants by thick layers of mulch. They allow weed seeds to fall through to where they cannot grow or take root. It is easier to pull out weeds from mulch and it also provides a better weed barrier.
- Low Cost Over Time: Mulch generally lasts longer than pine needles thus the need to replenish as often is less.