Lifestyle July 25, 2023

Landscaping 101: Wood Mulch vs. Pine Straw

Summer is here and it’s a great time to give your yard and landscaping some attention. Are you trying to decide whether to use mulch or pine straw in your landscaping project? Before you make the decision, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each in order to make the decision that’s right for you.

Wood Mulch-

A popular choice for residential and commercial landscaping, wood mulch provides an effective barrier against the extreme heat we often get here in East Tennessee. Did you know it can protect your soil and plants from heat damage?

Cons are that there are many insects also looking to avoid the heat, and they may seek shelter in the cool, damp spaces your mulch provides.

When it comes to energy efficiency, mulch is easier on your water bill as it slows the evaporation process requiring less frequent watering. Just make sure your soil doesn’t become soggy because of the slower evaporation.

In the springtime, mulch keeps the ground cooler longer, preventing your plants from blooming too early.

Pine Needles –

Pine straw (pine needles) makes a great landscaping option too. Certain plants, including rhododendrons, blueberries, and arctostaphylos thrive in pine needle mulch.

However, other plants require low pH soils to survive and these do not do as well in pine needle mulch.

One benefit to pine needle mulch is that it protects against erosion from hard rains and it slows evaporation. However, pine needle mulch is dangerously slippery when dry, something to consider if you or someone in your household has mobility issues. It may also present a fire hazard, especially if you are gardening in a high risk area for fires.

Another benefit of pine needle mulch is that it is easily accessible if you have pine trees. Just rake them up and shred them, or let them compost for a bit to break down.

These are just two of the great options available for landscaping your home. Whether you hire a company to handle the work, or decide to DIY, make sure you think through what types of plants and mulch you want. When you choose carefully and apply it correctly, your mulch or pine straw should last through the season and make your home look top notch!