Composting Pine Needles: The Detailed Guide

Composting Pine Needles

If you are one of the persons who is living where there are abundant pine trees, you know that how these types of trees only need a small time to fill everywhere of the lawn or garden spot.

The questions:

  • How to get rid of pine needles?
  • What to do with pine needles?
  • Are pine needles compostable?
  • If they are compostable, what plants do not like pine needles?

Read on to find out detailed answers to these questions while I’m discussing ways on how to effectively recycle pine needles.

How to get rid of Pine Needles

Despite, evergreen plants such as pine are attractive and they help beautify the surroundings. But, some of these trees do shed needles, and cleaning the needles is not sometimes an easy task.

However, it depends on where the needles of pine have landed. In all cases, here is a step by step guide on how to remove dead fallen pine needles from your lawn or garden beds:

Set yourself ready by wearing hand gloves and facemask. It is usually easier to remove needles that have fallen on a flat surface such as paved driveways. This kind of pine needles can be removed away using a push broom.

However, when the pine needles landed on a tight space and garden beds, it is usually harder to get rid of the pine needles.

You can decide to invest in buying a leaf blowers from one of your local stores or online store. Using the leaf blower can make cleaning so much easier.

The leaf blowers are of different types. So, choose the one that best suits your need. If you are cleaning big space, then you need to invest in buying a large, powerful, and efficient leaf blower. However, if you only want to clean a small garden space or lawn, a small leaf blower will be sufficient.

Leaf blower comes in handy when removing pine needles that have landed in between rocks and garden beds. Blow the needles and collect them in a container.

You can also use a pressure washer to remove pine needles that fall in between large rocks that cannot be removed with a leaf blower. But, make sure you pay close attention to the control settings and use the low settings that give the best result.

This is because the washer can easily blow away your garden plants and small rocks, which are purposely placed for decoration.

Note: both leaf blowers and pressure washers are not required if you want to get rid of pine needles from grass and mulch. This is especially important if the ground where the pine needles landed is damp. In this case, you can use a garden rake or small garden shovel if the needles are clumsy.

The last thing after cleaning and parking the pine needles is to recycle them. And this what I will be looking about for the rest of this article.

What do with Pine Needles?

After you have removed all the pine needles from your lawn, garden beds, and other households promise, do not trash the pine needles. There are ways, which you can employ to benefit from the dead fallen pine needles.

And these include through:

  • Mulching
  • Lasagna gardening
  • Composting

Mulching can be described as a process of protecting the surface of a garden, farm, or lawn from certain harsh environmental conditions using a proactive layer of plant material known as mulch.

Pine needles are good materials that can be used to mulch the surface of garden beds especially on a garden with vegetables that require a pH level below 5.

Pine needles can also be used in lasagna composting or gardening. Lasagna gardening involves leaving or burying organic matters on the garden spot or lawn to naturally decompose on its own and then release the minerals or nutrients to the plants and soil.

This gardening technique helps improve the quality of soil and increase plants’ growth and yields. In this case, you are going to leave the pine needles when they fall and leave them to decompose on the lawn or garden beds.

This an effective way of improving soil aeration and water-retention capacity. It also boosts plants’ growth and yields.

Another way to turn pine needles into a useful resource is to compost them manually in the compost bin or pile when you remove them from the garden beds and lawn.

One advantage of composting pine needles is providing nutrients to soil and plants and cleaning the surrounding where the pine trees are growing.

Composting Pine Needles

Composting is one of the best ways to recycle pine needles. The compost can be used to feed plants and increase the humus content of the soil. The compost can also be used to make seed and potting mix for growing indoor plants and young seedlings.

The pine needles composting process usually takes not more than 4 months to breakdown for all the dead pine needles waste. During the first weeks of starting the compost, organic matters that are usually decomposed first are greens, then eventually pine needles.

This is because pine needles contain a high amount of carbon and this delays the time at which pine needles can be broken down.

Let me work you through a step by step guide on how to compost pine needles.

But, before then,

Are pine needles Browns or Greens?

This is important because it will help you avoid adding too much of one organic material to the compost. And this is bad for producing good compost.

Knowing what are green compostable materials and what are brown compostable materials will help you avoid starting a compost that releases a bad odor or attracts pests.

Greens are compostable materials that contain a high amount of nitrogen while brown compostable materials are compostable materials that contain a high amount of carbon. In this case, pine needles contain a high amount of carbon and they fall under brown compostable materials.

Tip: Learn more about compostable materials

With this information in mind, here is a step by step guide on how to compost pine needles:

How to Compost Pine Needles

If you are following the article, by now you have clean or removed and gathered the pine needles, composting them is very simple and straightforward.

Here is a step by step guide on how to compost pine needles:

Find a suitable composting container: this is the main part of starting a new compost. You need to find a good compost bin or pile where you can load the pine needles. You can either buy or make the compost bin locally with a plastic dustbin.

However, this depends on the size of pine needles and household waste you want to compost. If for instance, you want to compost a large number of pine needles, you can alternatively dig holes and bury them.

However, this is not an effective way to compost pine needles because is going to take a long period of time.

The best alternative if you are on a budget is to buy a compost bin or make it locally from a plastic dustbin.

Learn how to make a compost bin from a plastic dustbin

The compost bin has the advantage of conserving heat. And if properly made, it will allow proper passage of air and moisture, which are the primary components that are required for composting.

Place the compost bin or pile on a suitable spot: location also plays a major role in producing a good and completely finished compost. You need to find a spot in the sun’s direction, which is not too moist or damp.

Add the pine needles and other waste in alternate layers: add both the dead pine needles and green organic materials in an alternate order.

Your green organic matters may include kitchen waste such as fruits and vegetables. You need to chop the pine needles and add them to the bottom of the compost bin. Add about 5 inches of the pine needles into a compost bin.

The second layer that will be added on top of the pine needles should contain green compostable materials such as coffee grounds, grass clippings, weeds, fruit peels, and vegetables.

Add about 5 inches of green organic matter on top of the pine needle. Then, continue to add pine needles and green organic materials as I described below:

Chopped pine needles> Greens> chopped pine needles> Greens> pine needles>Greens

Continue to add in this form until the compost bin is full. Cover the compost and watch closely for any change.

Turn the compost timely: in order to increase heat, oxygen, and moisture and to speed up the composting process, you need to turn the compost timely at least two times a week. Learn more on how to turn the compost into a compost bin.

Tip: Learn more on how to turn a compost

How long do pine Needles take to Compost?

If you are using a hot composting method, which is the method I explained above. The pine needles composting process can take about 2-3 months for the pine needles to be fully broken down.

However, if you employed or used a cold composting method, expect your pine needles compost the following year or the next two years or more

What plants do not like Pine Needles?

Pine needles tend to be acidic when they landed on the ground. And so plants that do not like acidic conditions may be affected when fed with pine needles compost.

Examples of plants that do not like acidic conditions include Bearded iris, Candytuft, Easter lilies, and other perennial flowers. And common plants that do prefer acidic soil include Apple, Basil, and Cucumber.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Pine Needles Bad for Soil?

Pine needles are not bad for the soil. One problem that may arise is when the soil you want to fertilize the pine needles do not raise the pH of any soil. This is because during composting the pH of any soil. This is because, during composting, the pH of the pine needles has been neutralized or eliminated.

Pine needles compost, when added as a mulch to The garden soil or any agricultural soil, can help moisten the soil and suppress weeds growth. And this helps increase nutrients in the soil.

Related: Can You Compost Bread: The Ultimate Bread Composting Guide

Are pine needles good for Vegetables Garden?

Adding pine needles to your vegetables is good. This is because vegetable plants love acidic conditions and soil. Pine needles when not composted and are added to the soil can help acidify the soil and improve the growth of acid-loving plants such as carrots and basil.

Can you put pine needles around tomato plants?

Mulching around tomatoes with pine needles can help reduce splashing on the lower surface of tomato plants’ leaves. And this in turn reduces the risk of tomatoes’ blight disease.

Read also: How To Shred Cardboard For Compost Step By Step Guide

Conclusion

Pine needles are quite abundant in areas where are growing either for ornamental or shelter bed purposes. And they can be utilized for a ton of many different things. One important thing about pine needles is that you don’t need to put more effort and time to turn them into something very resourceful.

Instead of leaving the dead pine needles to build upon the garden beds, lawn, and outside of your home, why not remove them and recycle them using some common simple gardening and agricultural techniques that can help make your home smell better, give your garden plants a new growth boost, improve the quality of soil, and leave your home cleaner. All these benefits can be derived from pine needles by simply composting them with some greens such as grass clippings and vegetable waste.

In this article, I looked at different methods of composting pine needles. I hope this article will be an excellent help to you in understanding how to compost pine needles with other organic matters. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section below.

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