What is the Difference Between Pine Needles and Pine Straw?

When most people think of pine trees, they think of the needles. But what are pine needles, really? And what is the difference between pine needles and pine straw? In this blog post, we will explore the answers to those questions and more!

Pine Needles

Pine needles are actually the leaves of pine trees. They are long, thin, and sharp, and they grow in clusters. Pine needles can vary greatly in length, be anywhere from two to twelve inches long, and they are usually a yellow-green or blue-green color.

Pine needles are an important part of the pine tree’s life cycle. They help the tree to get the nutrients it needs from the sun, and they also help to protect the tree from pests and diseases.

Pine needles are also a source of food for some animals, like deer and rabbits. And humans can use pine needles to make tea!

Pine Straw

Pine straw, on the other hand, is the dried remains of those pine needles. Once the needles have fallen off the tree, they will dry out and become brittle. And that is what we call pine straw. Pine straw is often used as mulch or packing material, and it can be a great addition to your garden.

Pine straw is brown or reddish in color, and it can be shorter than pine needles. This is because after the pine needles fall, anything that damages or breaks the brittle straw will reduce the length.

There are many uses for pine straw, and it is often used as mulch because it is an effective way to keep weeds at bay and help the soil retain moisture. It is light and very easy to spread. It’s a common misconception that pine straw is acidic, but according to this article by the University of New Hampshire Extension, “Pine needles themselves are acidic but do not have the capacity to appreciably lower the soil pH.” If you’re interested in the topic, this is a great article for further reading and context.

The straw can also be used for craft projects, like making pine needle baskets.

So, there you have it! The difference between pine needles and pine straw. Now that you know the difference, which will you choose for your next project?

Are you going to brew some tea? Will you weave a basket? Choose your materials wisely, because the same material at different stages of the lifecycle can yield wildly different results!

Will Pine Straw Attract Bugs?

There is a lot of debate about whether or not pine straw will attract bugs. Some people say that the straw attracts insects and other pests, while others claim that it does not make much of a difference either way. Let’s take a closer look at this question and find out what the science says.

What is Pine Straw?

Pine straw is a type of mulch made from the needles of pine trees. Keep in mind that pine straw mulch differs from pine needles in that it is the dead fallen needles from various species of pine trees.

Why Would You Use Pine Straw?

Pine straw is often used as mulch in gardens and landscapes. It is a natural product that has many benefits, such as helping to retain moisture, reducing erosion, and increasing soil fertility.

What are the pros and cons of using pine straw?

There are both pros and cons to using pine straw. On the plus side, it is a natural product that is readily available and relatively inexpensive. It also has several benefits for your garden or landscape. On the downside, pine straw can be messy to work with and it doesn’t last as long as some other types of mulch.

So, Does It Attract Bugs?

Pine straw itself will not attract bugs, but it can provide a suitable environment for them to live in if there are already bugs present. Pine straw mulch is a favorite hiding place for earwigs, millipedes, and other small insects.

It is true that pine straw can attract some insects, such as beetles and moths. However, it is important to note that these insects are not typically harmful to plants or gardens. In fact, some of them can even be beneficial, as they help to pollinate flowers and trees. Additionally, most bugs that are attracted to pine straw are not interested in humans or animals, so they are not a threat to your safety.

So, will pine straw attract bugs? The answer is maybe. If there are already bugs present, pine straw can provide a nice little home for them to live in. However, pine straw itself is not likely to attract bugs to your garden or landscape.

Overall, the jury is still out on whether or not pine straw will attract bugs. However, if you are concerned about this issue, there are some things you can do to reduce the risk. For example, you can purchase pine straw that has been treated with insecticides or you can avoid using it in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic.

Tips for using pine straw and reducing bug attraction

If you are worried about attracting bugs, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk.

First, make sure to get pine straw that is fresh and dry. Old, wet pine straw is more likely to attract bugs.

Second, avoid using too much pine straw. A thick layer of pine straw can create the perfect environment for insects to hide and breed.

Third, monitor your pine straw for bugs on a regular basis and remove any that you find. Regular maintenance will help to keep the bug population under control.


Pine straw is can attract bugs if not maintained, but it is not likely to do so if it is fresh and dry. If you are concerned about attracting bugs, there are several things we listed in here that you can do to reduce the risk. Overall, pine straw is a safe and effective mulch for your home, garden, or landscape project.

If you’re ready to buy bulk pine straw or a single bale, we’ve got you covered!

What is Pine Straw Good For?

Pine straw is an excellent mulch for gardens and landscapes. It helps to retain moisture in the soil, control weeds, and protect plants from extreme weather conditions. Pine straw also provides a visual appeal and can enhance the appearance of your garden or landscape.

For clarity, just remember that we’re referring to the fallen needles of pine trees.

It’s a Great Compost Material

Pine straw is also a good material for creating compost. It decomposes quickly and adds valuable nutrients to the soil. Compost made with pine straw is ideal for use in vegetable gardens and flower beds.

Animal Bedding

Pine straw can also be used as bedding for animals. It is absorbent and helps to keep animals clean and comfortable. It doesn’t fluff up by absorbing water like hay does, and it doesn’t contain any seeds either. However, if you do use pine straw as animal bedding, be sure that it’s not an animal that will eat it, such as cows.

Pine Straw is a Good Weed Barrier

Another reason pine straw is such a popular mulch is because it’s an effective weed barrier. If you lay it down thick enough, it will prevent most weed seeds from even germinating. Just be sure to check the edges of your garden beds regularly and pull any weeds that do manage to peek out.

As mentioned before, pine straw is a popular mulch for gardeners. It has many benefits, including retaining moisture in the soil, suppressing weed growth, and adding nutrients to the soil.

But there are some things to keep in mind when using pine straw as mulch…

Don’t Pile On the Mulch Too High

When not insulating for the winter, it’s also important not to use too much pine straw at one time because it can smother smaller plants that need more sun exposure than evergreens do. Because it’s so light and airy, it can be easy to pile on pretty high, but remember that the mulching effect of blocking out light can also harm the plants you do want to grow.

Pine Needles Will Mat Down Over Time

Be sure to get an inch or two of straw on top of your existing mulch before winter sets in. If you don’t plan ahead for this, you could experience some detrimental effects once temperatures drop below freezing. Of course, that also depends on what’s under the mulch.

There Are Better Weed Barriers

If you’re looking to use pine straw as a barrier for weeds and no other reason, it may not be your best bet. Because it’s less dense than something like wood chips or bark, pine straw can leave an opportunity for underlying weeds to poke through.

So while it does help prevent weeds from sprouting in your landscape and garden, if you’re looking to minimize the amount of weed pulling you do, there may be better options.

Pine Straw Can Hide Critters

While pine straw won’t attract bugs, it can be a great place for small critters to congregate. As you may be aware, small critters are often the perfect snack for a snake! So it doesn’t necessarily attract anything that you don’t want around your home, but it could give great concealment and even provide a meal for snakes.

Pine straw is an effective mulch for suppressing weeds and grasses. It is often used in landscape beds, around trees and shrubs, and on slopes to control erosion. Pine straw is also a popular choice for covering garden paths and walkways.

When using pine straw as mulch, it is important to keep in mind that it will break down over time. This means that you will need to replenish it every few years to maintain its effectiveness. Pine straw is also flammable, so be sure to keep it away from any areas where there is a risk of fire!

If you’ve been camping in the woods where pine straw is abundant, you know how easy it is to start a fire with it. It’s no less easy in your garden or around your home, so be careful!


So what is pine straw good for then? The answer is that it depends on your needs. If you’re looking for an organic mulch to protect your plants and soil, pine straw is a great option. It helps keep the moisture in the ground while allowing air and water to circulate, which helps promote healthy plant growth. Additionally, it can help suppress weed growth and prevent erosion. If you need a quick way to cover up an ugly surface, pine straw can do the trick too!

What is Mulch and What Does It Do?

What is Mulch and What Does It Do?

In this blog post we will discuss different types of mulch and their use, in addition to some common practices. We hope that after reading this article you will know more about mulching so you can make an informed decision next time you spruce up your home and garden!

But first…

What is Mulch?

Mulch is a general term for ground cover that can help retain water, prevent weed growth, and add organic matter to the soil. It can be broadly categorized into two different categories: organic and inorganic (see below).

The purpose of the mulch can determine the type we should look for. For example, if aesthetics is our primary concern, then all mulches are an option, and it comes down to our particular taste.

However, if you are looking for something to retain moisture, you should look at organic mulches.

Mulching is a great way to make your garden look neater and more inviting, but there’s much more to it than that. Just a few inches of organic mulch throughout your plants will provide benefits for the soil like conserving moisture, stabilizing temperature, reducing erosion, and suppressing weed growth by blocking out sunlight.

Types of Mulches

As we stated before, there are two general types of mulch: organic and inorganic.

Organic Mulch

There is a wide range of woods and materials used for mulching!

Organic mulches are often moss, pine needles, grass clippings, chippings from hardwood trees like oaks and maples, shredded leaves, bark chips, compost or wood mulch.

Here at Atlantic Mulch & Stone, we carry cypress, chocolate hardwood, and premium black wood mulches, in addition to pine straw.

Organic mulches aren’t as hardy and shouldn’t be used on the perimeter of your garden because they will decompose over time and provide nutrients for weed growth. They are a great option to use throughout the plants though!

Inorganic Mulch

If we’re talking inorganic material that can be used as mulch, we’re really just referring to anything that was never alive that can serve one or more of the functions of mulch that we described above.

So the list of possible inorganic mulches is very long and is likely only limited by our imaginations!

That being said, materials frequently used for inorganic mulch are gravel, plastic sheeting, landscape fabric, stone and synthetic mulches like ground rubber, glass, and plastic. We of course carry several types of gravel and stone for you to choose from, which you can find here.

Inorganic mulches made out of plastic sheeting can be used to cover the ground under an organic mulch layer or by itself in order to help keep weeds down between rows in gardens.

Pebbles and pea gravel will give your garden a natural look with few weed problems but are not as good at conserving moisture. They also don’t provide nutrients to the soil via break down like organic mulch.

Benefits of Using Mulch

The main difference between these materials is that inorganic mulches are much more effective at keeping the temperature moderate for the plants during hot summer months while organic mulches offer benefits to soil health.

But there’s also a tradeoff here: if you’re using an organic material as mulch all year round it will eventually break down and provide nutrients back into your garden beds, which could attract weeds to those areas.

Both types of mulch can affect the soil pH, but that’s outside the scope of this article.

If you want long term use of your groundcover without having to worry about weed growth, then go with an inorganic material.

However, since you have to cut a hole in the material or pack it around your plants, this can be more cumbersome and/or less effective in closely planted beds.

To recap, benefits of mulch include:
  • reduces water evaporation from soil
  • increases amount of water your soil can hold
  • acts as thermal barrier for your soil, keeping it cooler in the summer
  • provides nutrients to your soil
  • reduces erosion
  • some wood mulches, like cedar, pine, and cypress have pest repellant properties
  • can provide a protective barrier from incidental damage by mowers and weed eaters

Bottom Line: Either type of mulch will be better for your landscape and garden than no mulch at all. So check out our products and decide which mulch is best for your home!

You can read more about mulch here