Pine Straw as Mulch

I want to introduce you to the easiest way to get pine straw for mulch purposes. First, though, let me explain why I think this is important.

In the past, when I’ve written to warn against using heinous black mulch, I’m always amazed by how many comments I get (especially on Facebook) from good Samaritans reminding me that pine straw can be used instead, as if I never recommend it. But in every book I’ve written since 2002, I’ve listed the five types of mulch you should use instead of dyed mulch, and I’ve always included pine needles.

Some folks who are new to GardenLine or this region might wonder how they can use pine needles if they don’t have pine trees in their yard. Or they may have discovered how difficult it is to rake some up elsewhere to use on their property. And I’ll admit that, in the past, pine straw bales and rolls were also a messy proposition, rarely sold in soil yards.

But, recently, clean and neatly packaged bales have become more readily available at several nurseries. So, now you can consider needles if you don’t have your own pine trees.

The Quick Straw example in the picture is distributed by The Ground Up. That means many area nurseries, garden centers, hardware stores and feed stores have access to these bales. In fact, there’s a page on The Ground Up website that lists all the places in the region that sell The Ground Up’s products. Plus, TGU sells bales at their bulk locations.

You’ll also find similar pine straw bales at other retail locations, and they are all pretty much the same. I just happen to have been educated on The Ground Up brand this week at a luncheon they hosted to show potential retailers that native shredded hardwood mulch isn’t the only alternative to dyed mulch.

If you’d like to give pine straw a try, one bale is the equivalent of about 45 square feet of coverage, 2-3 inches deep. That equates to about five bags of Texas native shredded mulch, which would provide about the same coverage at the same price. In my opinion, pine straw is best in beds with acid-loving plants such as azaleas, gardenias, hydrangeas, camellias and the like. It’s also a great mulch to use around almost any evergreen in the holly, cypress, arborvitae or cedar family of trees and shrubs.