Wood Chips vs. Pine Straw: Which Kind of Mulch Should You Choose?

Wood Chips vs. Pine Straw: Which Kind of Mulch Should You Choose?

Sod University
Using Wood Chips or Pine Straw

Wood Chips vs. Pine Straw: Which Kind of Mulch Should You Choose?

Well-designed and maintained beds are one of the most important components of a gorgeous yard. The most popular materials for filling beds include wood chips and pine straw. Beds provide framing for a lawn and are the place for flowers, trees, and shrubs to grow. The material a homeowner chooses to use as the base of the beds differ in the areas of application, cost, maintenance, longevity, safety, and interaction with the plants and shrubs it surrounds.

One of the first items to consider while choosing between wood chips and pine straw is geographic location. Wood chip mulch is a common feature in yards nationwide; it is used to suppress weeds and to provide aesthetic appeal to shrub and flower beds and can be found in most regions of the country. However, in many parts of the US where pine trees grow, pine straw is also a popular option. If you happen to live in a region where both pine straw and wood chip mulch are available, which should you choose and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

We’ve put together a quick-guide to help you compare and contrast mulch and pine straw so that you can make the best choice for your yard!

Pine Straw

  • Usually the less expensive option
  • Typically spread by hand
  • Requires less material to cover ground
  • Needs to be replaced 1-2x / yr.
  • Dry pine can be a fire safety hazard
  • Attracts more insects
  • Changes color over time
  • Dark brown/red pine needle aesthetic

Wood Chips (Cyprus & Pine)

  • Usually the more expensive option (Cyprus mulch is more expensive than pine mulch)
  • Typically spread by hand or blower
  • Requires more material to cover ground
  • Needs to be replaced annually
  • Fire retardant
  • Cyprus mulch is bug resistant
  • Provides a moisture barrier for plants and shrubs
  • Cyprus mulch does not float; pine mulch is buoyant and washes away
  • Light brown, bark-like aesthetic

Want to learn more about achieving a great lawn? Check out our other Sod University tips here