Pine needles make an excellent mulch for certain gardens. Choose areas that will benefit the plants that will appreciate the acidity of the needles as they decompose. Azalea, chrysanthemum, hostas, and rhododendron all appreciate acidic soil. In your fruit, herb, and vegetable gardens, blueberries, garlic, onions and tomatoes are just a few crops that will benefit from pine needle mulch.
All types of organic mulch will provide their own benefits and unique characteristics. Pine needles have a rich brown color and a fine surface texture. In the hot summer months, pine needle mulch will shade the soil to prevent moisture from evaporating before it can be taken up by plant life, and in the cold winter months it will act as a blanket to protect a plants tender root system.
Tomato plants are only one example of a plant that will benefit from pine needle mulch. They are planted in the early spring when the temperatures can get a little cooler than they prefer at night. Mulching with a 2 – 3 inch layer around the plant about 6 – 8 inches will protect their root systems from the cool temperatures that can occur, and in the hot summer months the mulch will provide protection from moisture being evaporated, conserving water. Suppressing weed growth that is a problem in most gardens is also another benefit.
Regardless of what area you live in, mulching the soil around your tomato plants will benefit the plant, and improve the soil structure as the mulch decomposes at the same time. Wait until the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit, mulching to early can trap cool soil temperatures around your tomato plants causing a delay in plant development. Before you apply mulch, you should water thoroughly, or wait until after a generous rainstorm to ensure the soil has plenty of moisture. Start out by laying down a 2 – 3 inch layer of pine mulch around each plant, and do not allow the mulch to come in contact with the plant stem. Throughout the growing season, keep adding about a 2 inch layer as needed.
In most areas, pine trees are a common tree used for landscaping, and their beauty is enjoyed by many. But not the mess they leave behind when some of their needles start to fall off as fall starts to fade into winter. When their needles land on a well manicured turf, and start to burn holes in it is when they start to get their bad name. Take advantage of the benefits that pine needles will provide by raking them up and reusing them as a mulch around plants that will benefit from them.