How to Compost Pine Needles


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.

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