Pine needles are often used as mulch around plants with a low pH level. This is because pine needle mulch can cause the pH of soil to drop slightly as it breaks down.
The pH of soil is a measure of how acid or alkaline soil is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH neutral soil is rated 7.0. Soil that has a pH rating lower than 7.0 is acidic, while soil that is rated higher is alkaline.
Plants also have a pH rating. Plants whose pH matches the soil's pH can take up nutrients more efficiently than plants with a pH rating different than the soil. Pine trees and the needles that they produce prefer acidic soil.
As pine tree needles decompose, they return acid to the soil. Over time, this acid can cause the pH rating to drop. Because of this, pine needle mulch is a good mulch to add around plants that like acidic soil such as pine trees as well as blueberries or azaleas.
- Photo Credit straw image by Katrina from Fotolia.com
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