Pine needles make a beneficial, attractive mulch for landscaping and perennial beds, but they decompose slowly and are slightly acidic. Together with their prickly nature, this makes them less useful in some cases unless they are fully composted. Pine needles add volume and necessary carbon components to the backyard compost bin. Properly prepared and mixed in a balanced compost pile, pine needles help produce valuable compost for amending and mulching garden soil.
Things You'll Need
- Garden shredder or lawn mower
- Compost bin or pile
- Green composting materials (weeds, kitchen vegetable scraps, lawn clippings)
- Dirt or manure
- Garden fork
Shred pine needles into small pieces with a garden shredder or by running over them with a lawnmower. Smaller pieces decompose more quickly.
Place a 2-inch layer of nitrogen-rich, green composting material such as grass clippings or tender, leafy weeds and vegetable scraps at the bottom of a compost bin or in an area you've designated for a free-standing compost pile.
Place a 2-inch layer of shredded pine needles on top of the layer of green composting material. Spread a 1/2-inch layer of dirt or manure on top of the shredded pine needles.
Moisten the compost layers with water. Repeat layering green compost material, shredded pine needles and dirt or manure until pile reaches 3 feet high or the top of the compost bin. Water between each layer.
Water frequently enough to keep the compost pile damp. When the pile settles to about one-third of its original height, turn it with a garden fork.
Turn the pile with a garden fork once every three days after the initial turning. Inspect the compost carefully as you turn it. When its components have broken down into a rich, chocolate-cake-type brown mass, it is ready for use in the garden.
Tips & Warnings
- Pine needle acidity is eliminated once the needles are completely composted. There is no need to adjust for pH on pine needle compost.
- Photo Credit GordonImages/iStock/Getty Images
Plants that Benefit from Pine Needle Mulch
If your yard is covered with pine needles from several mature pine trees, use the needles as mulch rather than bagging and...
How to Mulch a Garden with Pine Needles
Pine needle mulch keeps weeds down and slows the rate of water evaporation from the soil. The fine texture and light, even...
The Best Composting Materials
Composting is a simple way to add nutrients to your garden soil, increasing the health and productivity of your plants while reducing...
Are Pine Cones Good for Mulch?
Pine trees shed pine cones in their natural growth cycles. Pine cones are woody clusters that contain pine seeds. These tight clusters...
Do Pine Needles Kill Grass?
Dried pine needles or pine straw are valuable as organic mulch when used around trees and shrubs and in garden beds to...
What Are the Uses of Pine Needles?
Pine needles have many uses, whether they are cut from the tree, freshly fallen, or dried. Pine needles are commonly used in...