Panama City Beach Area 850-236-1959
Destin & Sandestin Area 850-267-0010

What Is Pine Straw Doing In My Florida Garden?

by Emily Durgan | Wed, Jun 04, 2014

pine straw florida panhandle landscape maintenanceWhen we talk about landscaping, we’re talking about more than just grass, plants and trees. There’s also the hardscaping (walls, walkways and decks), and some type of ground cover or mulch. That’s where pine straw comes in.

Pine straw is a fancy term for pine needles used for landscaping. It’s a popular product in Florida, because it has a lot of uses and benefits.

One great thing about pine straw is that it’s eco-friendly. No trees are harmed in the making of pine straw! The needles are collected after they’ve fallen from the tree (renewable resource!), bundled up in twine (no plastic bags!) and transported to their new home.

Pine Straw For Mulching

Mulch is a generic term for the material spread around trees and plants to provide nourishment and insulation. In Florida, mulch is helpful year round, keeping the ground cool in summer, and more uniformly warmer in winter.

Pine straw also inhibits weed growth — actually, it’s thought to reduce weed growth by two-thirds compared to using no mulch. Using a 3-inch cover of pine straw is a good way to block the light which promotes weed growth.

Other Benefits of Pine Strawpine straw florida panhandle landscape maintenance

Moisture Retention

  • Pine straw helps retain moisture longer than other mulches.

  • It reduces water runoff and evaporation. With water restrictions in Northwest Florida (well, the whole state!), using pine straw is a great way to maximize water efficiency.

  • Pine straw allows for good air ventilation and water infiltration.

Prevents Erosion

  • Pine straw prevents erosion because the needles interlock, creating a natural mat or barrier to keep them in place. They stay put during heavy rain.

  • Pine straw is great for covering slopes, because it adheres to the slope and won’t slide down it.

Protective And Eco-Friendly

  • The needles are organic material, and don’t contain chemicals.

  • Pine straw provides nitrogen and other nutrients for the plants below. You don’t need additional fertilizer there.

  • Pine straw doesn’t change the pH acidity of the soil.

  • Termites don’t like it! Pine straw helps keep your garden insect-free.

Pine straw also has a lovely reddish hue, making it attractive in the landscape, and is generally less expensive to apply than many other mulching options.

Spreading And Caring For Your Pine Straw

pine straw florida panhandle landscape maintenancePine straw provides good coverage and is easy to spread out. We recommend spreading it by hand, a few inches thick. GreenEarth Landscape Services can help you determine the amount of pine straw needed for optimal coverage, and the best places for it — we can even do the application for you!

It works well around the base of trees, in flower beds, and in fruit and vegetable gardens. Pine straw usually stays in place, even in the rain. It will slowly decompose over time, so landscapers like the professionals at GreenEarth should check it and add new straw occasionally. It also should be raked once in awhile to make sure it’s not compacted and that water is getting through.

Other Uses For Pine Straw

While pine straw works well as a mulch, it’s pretty to use as a ground cover if you don’t have grass or other plantings. Many also use it to line pathways or driveways, giving a more rustic and natural look. Talk to us if you’re interested in learning how pine straw can be used in your landscaping.

Want To Talk Pine Straw?

If you’re interested in a pine straw application — or want to create a plan for your entire Florida panhandle landscape — give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.

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Image credit: Pine straw mulch

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