The Straw Farm

Pine Straw 101

What is Pine Straw and what is it used for?

The term “pine straw” refers to pine needles which are harvested after
having fallen from pine trees. They are bound together with either
wire, string, or netting into a unit most commonly called a “bale”.
Increasing in popularity, it is also sold in rolls (which tend to be
roughly two to two and a half times larger than bales) as well. Pine
straw is used in landscaping for purposes such as erosion control, weed
blocking, water retention, and general appearance. The high acidity of
Pine straw mulch discourages weed growth.

What are the benefits of using Pine Straw as mulch?

Pine straw has been a popular landscape ground cover throughout
the South for the past 25 years. It is one of the most widely used
mulches for all size projects from residential flowerbeds to
industrial complexes and highway landscapes. Longleaf Pine Straw
is an asthetically appealling reddish/brown mulch that can be used
in a variety of landscapes to enhance the texture, color, contrast,
weed-deterrent capabilities and uniqueness of your
landscaping. The fine texture and uniform color of pine straw is
more aesthetically pleasing to some people than traditional wood
bark mulch.

Mulches act as a catalyst in creating favorable growing conditions
for plants. In other words, Pine Straw helps create the necessary
environment to stimulate healthy plant development. Pine Straw
promotes uniform plant growth and slowly decomposes to release
organic nutrients that enrich the soil. Insulation is a key Pine Straw
characteristic, and as a result, a plant’s root system and the lower
stems of plants stay cooler in warm weather and remain warmer in
colder weather. A layer of Pine Straw helps keeps the roots of
tender plants from freezing.

Pine Straw interlocks and holds together during hard rains and
heavy winds, even on sloping landscapes. Because Pine Straw
interlocks, pine straw will not wash out of beds like other
mulches. Whereas many mulches do not allow water to runoff (rain
and/or irrigation), pine straw allows water to flow through it to the
soil underneath. The same quality by which pine straw allows for
water to flow through it also helps to conserve soil moisture by
reducing water evaporation rates and moisture loss. Pine straw also
has the added benefit of reducing erosion caused by wind and rain-
splash impact and adhering well to slopes; thus, not washing away
as easily as other mulches during heavy rain.

Pine needle mulch (pine straw) is the number one mulching
material used in landscape plantings in the Southeastern U.S.
Because pine straw is actually a leaf (needle), it benefits the environment in the same way that decomposing leaves benefit the
forest floor, by recycling nutrients and maintaining soil organic
matter in a compost-like fashion. NO Trees are destroyed in the
process of harvesting pine needles. The carbon footprint for
harvesting pine needles vs. other mulches is very low. The majority
of pine needle harvesting is done so by hand by manually using a
rake. The pine straw is raked into piles, and then placed into a
wooden box for baling.

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