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Pine Straw vs. Mulch

Home Lawn Mulch Installed In Bed

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 (mulch) 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 mulch 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 U.S. 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.

For more information on lawn and garden beauty, be sure to check out the following related articles: Colors to Make Your Lawn and Garden PopHow to Properly Plant Trees and Shrubs and Great Landscaping Improves the Value of Your Home.

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