When it comes to mulch, pine straw is king. Pine straw can truly be a great benefit in the landscape when used correctly. Here are some tips to keep your pine straw beds looking sharp.
Don't remove the old pine straw. One of the benefits of mulching is the organic matter it adds to the soil as it decomposes.
Replenish your pine straw. Don't replace it. Just add new straw on top of the old to make a layer at least three inches thick. A three inch layer is the minimum needed for it to be effective in preventing weeds and conserving soil moisture.
Don't pile your pine straw on too thick. Remember, 3 to 5 inches is plenty. Any more than this will not help the plants.
Don't place pine straw too close the stems of your plants. Especially with azaleas, mulch piled up around the stem can cause a second root system to develop. This often happens at the expense of a deeper root system, which leaves the azaleas or other plants even more susceptible to drought.
Be sure to place the pine straw in as wide an area as you can underneath the plant. Spread it beyond the outer most branches, all the way to the dripline of the plant. Covering the feeder roots with a good supply of mulch is essential.
Always mulch young trees and shrubs well. It's really important in the first two or three years of establishment. With shallow-rooted trees like dogwood, redbud or crape myrtle, it's good to always have a thick layer
of mulch around them.
If your main objective in using pine straw or other mulch is weed control, try using a landscape fabric underneath the pine straw. This will allow water and nutrients in, yet still keep the weeds down. Just be careful not
to get any soil on top of the landscape fabric, as many weeds can grow in just a pinch of soil.
If you opt against using weed fabric, mulching will still do a great job. Pine straw that's two inches deep after it settles does 90 percent of what you'd expect the fabric to do. So how much straw does it take to get two inches settled, try four to five inches.
Mulches do many things for us in the landscape including regulating soil moisture and temperature. So when you are adding new plants to your landscape this fall, be sure to mulch.
Hall County Extension Coordinator
734 East Crescent Drive
Gainesville, GA 30501
Email: [email protected]