General Discussion:

pine needles as mulch?

Messages posted to thread:

Sarah02-Mar-07 10:40 AM EST 6b   
Sunny02-Mar-07 12:10 PM EST   
Nancy18-Mar-07 10:05 PM EST 5   
Shari20-Mar-07 01:11 PM EST 6   

Subject: pine needles as mulch?
From: Sarah
Zone: 6b
Date: 02-Mar-07 10:40 AM EST

I have a 40 ft. pine tree in the backyard which drops tonnes of needles every fall. It also happens to be situated right next to the portion of the yard which receives the most light and will probably wind up my perennial bed. Since it's going to be dropping needles everywhere anyway, can I use them purposefully as mulch? I intend to amend our clay soil with lots of compost and should I add lime as well to keep things from getting too acidic? Anybody else using pine needles with little trouble?

Subject: RE: pine needles as mulch?
From: Sunny
Date: 02-Mar-07 12:10 PM EST

Sarah, Be aware your gorgeous pine will take ALL the nutrients and moisture from your perennial bed. Suggestions: Make a raised bed in that spot. Use shade and acid-loving plants there. Besides lime, add lots of compost and manure, and you'll need to use fish or other liquid fertilizer as well. using raised beds and /or pots there will help immensely! Yes, you can use the needles as mulch; be aware they'll raise the acidity wherever they're put.

Subject: RE: pine needles as mulch?
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 18-Mar-07 10:05 PM EST

Hi Sarah,

You shouldn't have problems using the pine needles, as it'll take quite a lot to make the soil appreciably acidic. A bit of dolomite lime won't hurt. I'd be careful, however of adding sand to clay soil. While I haven't first had experience here, I've heard that adding sand to clay will make concrete. Any kind of organic material (manure, compost, leave, grass clippings) is a really good idea and I've heard that kitty litter (the non-clumping kind) is very good at breaking up clay.

Subject: RE: pine needles as mulch?
From: Shari (
Zone: 6
Date: 20-Mar-07 01:11 PM EST

I have to agree with Nancy's caution against adding sand to clay soil. I also have very clayey soil - it's like concrete just as is! I have amended it with lots of organic material with very good results. I'm just new at this kind of gardening but my understanding is that you need to work in organic material every year.

I also second Sunny's recommendation of raised beds & containers. Raised beds are more work up front but well worth it. I have some well-established pines & spruces in my yard and nothing grows under or around them (I have plans to remedy that some year.) Raised beds will give your perennials their own source of nutrients and moisture. You may want to put down some landscape fabric to help keep the pine's roots from growing up into the beds. Raised beds are also easier to work and are lower maintenance.

Good luck!

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