Pine needles make an excellent mulch for all soils. It's the pine bark, especially the fine textured kind is the problem material. It washes and blows away and doesn't break down into a very good material when it does stay in place.
Q: I just have planted a new yard, it looked great for a while but now pine needles are killing my grass. I have raked them up but they are falling fast! Do you know what I can do, maybe a spray for the grass or heavy lime? K.W., Tyler.
A: Pine needles won't kill or even hurt your grass. The shade of the pine trees will. You might need to switch over from grass to mulch or groundcover.
Q. I have heard that pine bark mulch is the best all around mulch for not floating away and also not attracting bugs. If this is untrue what is the best mulch in your opinion for the Dallas area? I do not have a leaf mulcher, but know mulched leaves are a good source of compost for the soil. When applying pine bark mulch to shrubs and hedges do the unmulched leaves need to be removed first, or can the mulch be put on top of the leaves? Ė T.C., Dallas
A. Mulch can be put on top of leaves but you are very wrong on pine bark mulch. It is the worst choice. It floats and washes away worse than any other mulch.
The best choice is shredded native tree trimmings made from trees growing on your own property is the ultimate. Recycling what grows on your land back into the soil is the true natural process. If you have to buy mulch, the best by far is native cedar.
Sometimes people think Iím talking about cypress mulch and Iím not. It is not a very good mulch either. It tends to seal off the oxygen/carbon dioxide transfer and doesnít break down fast. Yes, thatís a problem. We want the mulch to break down to humus and organic acids that feed the soil the natural way.