Can you put pine straw over mulch? Yes. Pine straw is in fact mulch, and mulch is a layer that you just keep feeding. I mulch my garden heavily and use an array of different organic materials. Read on to find out how pine mulch can improve your garden and reduce the amount of hassle you have with weeds.
Firstly, What Is Pine Straw?
Pine straw is quite simply the pine needles that fall below a pine tree. This forms a thick layer over time and can be harvested and sold. Commercial pine plantations can contain a very thick layer of this mulch and in certain places, this is harvested and sold. It can come in bags or even compressed bales. Or you can harvest it yourself.
What Is Mulch?
Mulch is a term we use to refer to a layer that we place over the soil. This is typically a layer of leaves, wood chips, manure, and other organic matter. It protects the soil from sunlight, helps to retain moisture, and feeds a community of microbes that include bacteria (fixing nitrogen), fungi (breaking down complex organic materials into humic substances), and larger creatures such as earthworms and woodlice that help to feed the soil and aerate it.
What Are The Benefits Of Mulch Layers?
A mulch layer mimics the layer that occurs in nature on a forest floor. Leaves and branches fall from large trees and cover the floor in a natural mulch. This mulch allows the growth of fungi and microbes that help to produce nutrients for plants. Fungi also connect the trees through a root network of mycorrhizae. These networks can be really huge!!
By having a layer of mulch in your garden, you mimic a healthy natural ecosystem, and this provides a number of benefits.
Mulch helps to preserve soil moisture – it reduces the impact of wind and sun on the soil in terms of stripping water away.
Mulch helps to keep the soil at an ideal temperature – it helps cool the soil by day, and keep it warm by night, providing roots with a more balanced temperature regime.
It provides nutrients through the natural breakdown of complex organic matter in the soil into nutrients and less complex substances.
It provides a home for beneficial soil organisms such as earthworms, and insects that eat pests.
Mulches feed mycorrhizae and help to keep your soil healthy and your plants connected.
Is Pine Straw Mulch?
Yes, it is in fact a mulch!! It is an organic substance that can cover soil, and that can be consumed by microbes and soil creatures. Hence it is mulch. And yes, you can put pine straw over mulch because it is mulch.
Can You Put Pine Straw Over Mulch?
We have shown that pine straw in mulch, hence to answer the question “can you put pine straw over mulch?” the answer is quite simply yes! It will just break down and become part of the mulch layer. I regularly use a few tons of pine straw a year in my garden. A garden waste removal company drops bags of leaves from people’s gardens at my gate, and if it is pine straw, I put it over my existing mulch layer and it does wonders for the soil.
How Do You Spread Pine Straw?
I just do this by hand – I grab bunches of the straw and spread it to create a layer that is about 4-6 inches deep. We have answered the question “can you put pine straw over mulch?” in this regard, if you are spreading pine straw over an existing mulch layer, you can spread a smaller layer of pine straw at about 3 inches if you do not have enough straw. The more the better, however, so do not be shy! Mulch layers have no real upper limit, just a lower limit – if they are too thin they do nothing. The thicker the layer the better.
If you have an inordinately huge supply of pine straw you can use a hay/manure fork to spread the straw.
Do I Need To Remove Pine Straw Before Putting Down Mulch?
Nope – as we have already shown, pine straw is mulch. Can you put pine straw over mulch? Yes. Hence do not remove the lower layer of mulch. It contains useful fungi, bacteria, and creatures that will activate your pine straw mulch layer.
Does Pine Straw Make Your Soil Acidic?
There is an urban legend that pine straw makes your soil acidic! In fact, I believed this until very recently and used to use pine straw on my tomato and potato beds to make the soil acidic for these plants. There is however very little evidence to suggest that pine straw has any effect on soil pH at all. In this regard, you can add it to any part of your garden and not fear some wild pH swing that will change your soil ph.
Does Pine Straw Stop Weeds?
Yes – the thicker the layer the more it inhibits weeds. I have used thick layers of pine straw to kill some pretty noxious weeds in my garden. There are certain creepers and grasses that are difficult to eradicate by hand, hence covering them with a thick mulch helps to smother them. Pine straw and other mulches are effective at smothering weeds.
In Conclusion – Can You Put Pine Straw Over Mulch?
Yes, pine straw is mulch. So you can use it in your mulch layer. I believe an entire garden should be mulched, to create a corridor of communication between all plants. I mulch my pathways, I mulch my garden beds, I mulch under my trees. This means that my garden is greener, healthier, and way more alive than any other garden in my town. Mulch is the most important part of a garden in my opinion as it keeps the soil alive – and without living soil, your garden becomes dead and dependent on fertilizer.
I offer local lawn and garden maintenance companies the opportunity to dump their bags of garden waste at my gate. This means they do not have to drive as far to dispose of this, and I, therefore, receive a huge variety of organic materials to mulch my garden. At times this layer can be up to two feet deep! The more I mulch, the more my soil thrives and the more my garden flourishes.