Add to PageAsk a Question

Using Pine Needles in Your Garden

Category Miscellaneous
There are a number of ways this natural material can be used to help you in the garden. This page is about using pine needles in your garden.


Share on ThriftyFunThis page contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

By 0 found this helpful
December 15, 2009

Every year in autumn, trees shower gardeners with an abundance of falling leaves and pine needles. To not take advantage of them in our gardens is to waste some valuable (and free) renewable resources. Here are some tips on how to use pine needles and leaves in your garden.

Leaves, Pine Needles, and pH

Changing the pH level of the soil can inhibit a plant's ability to absorb some nutrients, but tests have shown that leaves and pine needles can only create a very small change in the soil's pH when used as mulch or for winter protection. Whether or not these small changes will affect your plants depends a lot on your local climate conditions (how fast the leaves and pine needles decompose) and the pH of your existing soil.


If you use nothing but large amounts of leaves and pine needles over a period of several years, adding lime every few years will help counteract any acid buildup. Always let a soil test be your guide to making any adjustments. Fully composted leaves and pine needles are considered neutral and will not add to the acidity of your soil.

Using Pine Needles

As a mulch. Because of their shape and rigidity, pine needles naturally lock together, which allows air and water to circulate while preventing the needles from packing down and forming a dense mat. This means your plants are far less likely to experience the rot and oxygen deprivation that sometimes occurs under thick layers of bark or leaves. The shape and rigidity of the needles also helps the mulch stay put during high winds and steady rains. Pine mulch can be used around vegetables and perennials of all kinds including roses and raspberries.


As winter protection. Add 3 to 5 inches of pine needle mulch to your garden beds in the fall. This will provide protection against sudden and extreme dips in temperature and allow plant roots to remain active until the ground freezes.

As a slug barrier. Create a ring of pine needles around the base of your hostas to help prevent slug damage. Pests like slugs and snails are known to avoid crawling over prickly objects that could injure or irritate their soft bodies.

As a walking path. Use pine needles to create walking paths between the rows in your vegetable garden. After you walk them a few times the needles pack down nicely. Not only do pine needles make an attractive path, but it will also help to keep the weeds from growing in-between your rows.

Using Leaves

On your lawn. Run a mulching mower over them and let the leaves fall where they may. By chopping them up you'll be adding a thin layer of organic nutrients to your lawn, and you'll also save yourself some raking. If you don't have a mulching mower, simply raise the front wheels of your lawnmower by a notch or two and take several slow passes back and forth across your lawn. You can also put them in a tall plastic pail or garbage can and chop them up with your weed whacker.


To make leaf mold. Leaf mold is sometimes called garden gold and making it is simple. Collect leaves and drop them into a holding cage made from poultry wire wrapped around stakes pounded into the ground. If the leaves are dry when you collect them, wet them down with a hose. Now leave them there to decay. Next fall you can use your one-year-old leaf mold as a mulch, or allow it to decay for another year and use it to condition your soil.

As winter protection. Newly fallen leaves can be used as winter protection around plants, but need to be removed in spring to avoid smothering plants. Shredded leaves will decompose faster, but may also still need to be raked out in the spring. To prevent leaves from blowing away, cover them with pine branches.

Comment Pin it! Was this helpful? Yes


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

February 22, 20140 found this helpful

I tried to burn massive amounts of pine needles; what was left resembles charcoal. Can I use this in my garden?

By Pat M.


March 3, 20140 found this helpful
Best Answer

As long as you didn't use any lighter fluid or anything like it to start them burning, you can absolutely use it. Biochar is great for gardens.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Answer this Question...

By 0 found this helpful
November 27, 2004

Please share your thoughts and "Do's and Don'ts" for composting pine needles. I have to circle the wagons and the troops and rake up all of them. I want to fill up the new 'wiz-bang' recycled plastics composter I purchased from the local landfill district office (It's about 42" high, and 4' across).


Thank you!
Bill in SE Mass.


November 28, 20040 found this helpful

Hi Bill,

Just mix with other compostable materials in layers and you're good to go. Compost does best when there is an equal mix of greens (fresh plant trimmings, kitchen veggie trimmings and grass clippings) and browns (shredded newspaper, brown pine needles, fallen leaves, etc.). Take a look here.

http://www.mast  ref/orgmat1.html
http://www.gard  cles/dynamic.htm
http://faq.gard  42647001285.html

Oh, the pine needles would be a brown.

You are very fortunate to have 'troops'! :-)

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
November 28, 20040 found this helpful

Pine needles can acidify the soil so are best around acid loving plants - or presumably on alkaline soils!




Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By nowax (Guest Post)
December 29, 20040 found this helpful

As long as you truly "compost" the needles (that is, that you put them into a mix with several other compostable materials and let them break down into compost or dirt) the acidic ph of the pine needles will be neutralized.

You can use pine needles as mulch (that is, not composted) around acid loving plants: rhododendreons, evergreens, azealas, etc....

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By Becky (Guest Post)
October 2, 20070 found this helpful

Should you shread the pine needles before adding them to the compost pile to speed up the process, or does it make a difference?

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By (Guest Post)
November 5, 20080 found this helpful

How long does it take for pine needles to compost?

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
October 23, 20170 found this helpful

Pine is slow to break down so chipping it before the pile can be useful. Shreading thing to be small before putting in the compost is true for everything in the compost pile. This helps make the process happen even faster. I have had temps around 300. which may be on the too hot side. you can bet that pile was steaming and no weed seed could live thru that. Pine does not raise ph levels enough to even talk about. If you really want to get that pile going a good ratio of green to brown is needed. also size matters. at least 4 feet tall.

I think the best use of pine is around plants for mulch because it breaks down slowly. you can use thus ti your advantage. be mindful they can be sharp they are called NEEDLES for a reason.

Keep making beauty and stay connected to the earth.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Answer this Question...
In This Page
Home and Garden Gardening MiscellaneousAugust 22, 2013
Pest Control
Summer Ideas!
Back to School Ideas!
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Better LivingBudget & FinanceBusiness and LegalComputersConsumer AdviceCraftsEducationEntertainmentFood and RecipesHealth & BeautyHolidays and PartiesHome and GardenMake Your OwnOrganizingParentingPetsPhotosTravel and RecreationWeddings
Published by ThriftyFun.

Desktop Page | View Mobile

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us

© 1997-2019 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Generated 2019/08/12 07:38:55 in 2 secs. ⛅️️ ⚡️
Loading Something Awesome!