a pile of brown leaves

PINE STRAW VS MULCH: WHAT'S BEST FOR YOUR ROSWELL LANDSCAPING

Pine Straw vs Mulch: What's Best for Your Landscape in Woodstock, Roswell, Alpharetta and Surrounding Areas

Learn the pros and cons between pine straw and mulch to get the desired result for your residential, commercial, or HOA property landscape!

Both pine straw and mulch are great for retaining moisture, minimizing soil erosion, and reducing weed germination, but which one is better? While the choice partly comes down to personal preference, there are other factors like cost, lifespan, and aesthetic appeal that can impact your final decision.


Pros and Cons of Using Pine Straw

There are advantages and disadvantages between use of pine straw and traditional mulch. Some of these reasons are:

Pine straw is low maintenance.

A single bale can cover approximately 40 to 50 square feet of landscape, and unlike other organic mulch, pine straw degrades at a slower rate. Pine straw is also easier to transport and even easier to spread because it is extremely lightweight.

Many have argued that pine needle acidity levels will heavily impact a soil's pH and can ruin plants, but the truth is it can actually improve the quality of certain plants and trees! The acidic level in pine needles is highest (between 3.2 and 3.8) when they are fresh and green, but will lose acidity overtime once they've fallen off the tree. Pine straw is a great choice for any landscapes or flower beds in Woodstock and surrounding communities that contain acidic-loving plants. Some plants and trees that grow well in pine straw landscaping include:

  • Azaleas
  • Gardenias
  • Roses
  • Dogwood trees
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Tomatoes

Pine straw can withstand intense weather conditions.

Pine straw is unique because it knits together. By interlocking, pine straw is less likely to be washed away by heavy winds and other inclement weather but is loose enough to allow moisture to reach the soil. A great pro about pine straw is that it's also a great insulator. It acts like a blanket of warmth for plants and soil in cold weather and helps keep them cool in the warm weather of Roswell, Alpharetta, and Woodstock.

Pine straw is especially great for sloped landscapes because it will not be washed away or erode as much as other ground covers.

Pine straw offers a unique aesthetic look compared to other styles of mulch.

Pine straw landscaping at a property in Alpharetta, GA.

One reason why people will choose pine straw over regular mulch is because the visual appearance can be more pleasing to the eye. Pine straw is natural-looking and acts as a neutral backdrop so all other plants are highlighted. It's fine texture and red-brown coloring can make any landscape look uniform and clean while adding a slight contrast that makes it stand out amongst other mulched landscapes.

Pine straw is one of the most affordable and renewable varieties of ground covering.

Good quality pine straw will typically cost $4 to $10 per bale, but pricing can vary from area to area in Roswell, Alpharetta, Woodstock, and nearby areas. However, considering the number of cubic yards one bale can cover, some find pine straw to be a better long-term landscaping investment. According to Texas A&M University, eight bags of red mulch would provide the same amount of coverage as a single bale of pine straw.

One of the pro characteristics of pine straw is it's more renewable and sustainable than other varieties of mulch. Pine needle harvesting creates a lower carbon footprint compared to other mulches because no trees are destroyed in the process.


Cons of Using Pine Straw

Even though pine straw can be a great alternative to mulch for several reasons, it also comes with a few cons.

Pine straw has a shorter lifespan compared to other mulch styles and will only last about six months before needing to be replaced, meaning you will need to have pine straw installation occur twice a year. Plus, until the pine straw settles and becomes more knit together, it can be blown away easily by wind if it's super loose.

Another con of pine straw is the lack of color variety. Pine straw only comes in a red-brown hue that fades rapidly from constant sun exposure and will start to look silver or gray in color.

The worst con about pine straw is that it can be highly flammable. Dry pine needles can be a serious fire hazard and are considered the second most combustible form of mulch next to shredded rubber mulch.


Pros and Cons of Mulch

Mulch is a better moisture and weed barrier.

Both pine straw and mulch are good for retaining water and keeping weeds at bay, but mulch has shown to outperform pine straw in this regard. Mulch is more compact and works better at preventing soil and plants from drying out, and because mulch blocks any sunlight from reaching the soil, weed seedlings will sprout up less and less. This helps maintain the look of a landscape or flower bed and makes seasonal yard clean-up easier.

Mulch also helps keep soil off the leaves of plants and trees; reducing the risk for plant disease.

Mulch has a longer lifespan.

Mulch will degrade at different rates based on the type of mulch used and the seasonal weather conditions in Woodstock and nearby communities. Even so, mulch should be replaced at least once a year. This helps maintain the color and appearance mulch brings to a landscape and ensures the soil is being insulated properly. It's especially important to replace organic mulch when needed so plants and soil consistently receive the proper nutrients.

Mulch comes in several varieties and colors.

Variety of different colors of landscaping mulch in Roswell, GA.

Many people will choose mulch for landscaping projects for the variety of colors and materials. Mulch will appear in different hues of black, brown, and red and can be made out of several types of material, including:

  • Rubber
  • Bark nuggets
  • Shredded bark
  • Wood chips
  • Organic

This allows for all kinds of aesthetically pleasing landscape designs that will fit anyone's style. Plus, unlike pine straw, dyed mulch can retain its color for almost a full year, so landscapes and flower beds in Woodstock, Roswell, and Alpharetta can keep looking beautiful all year long!


Cons of Using Mulch

For all its benefits, mulch comes with a number of cons; the biggest one being price. Depending on whether mulch is bought in bags, bulk, or by a truckload, the price can vary tremendously in Woodstock, Roswell, Alpharetta and nearby areas. Mulch per cubic yard can range anywhere from $16 to $65 and can increase after delivery and installation. On average, this comes out to about $3 to $7 per bag of mulch. The price can also be higher depending on the type of material used for the mulch. Because of this, large landscaping projects can see a quick rise in the overall pricing.

Not only can mulch be expensive, but it's also harder to spread around and can be heavily labor-intensive when trying to maintain the look of a flower bed or landscape. New seedlings will not be able to germinate because they do not receive any sunlight and the dark, cool environment that mulch creates, while good for moisture retention, also attracts insects like slugworms, earwigs, and other pests.

Another drawback is if mulch is not layered properly, or is mounted like a "volcano" around trees and plants, it can create excessive heat, cause disease, and prevent water and oxygen from reaching the plants. This is more commonly known as over-mulching.


Ready to start your next landscaping project in Woodstock, Roswell, Alpharetta, and nearby areas? Let our team transform your property!

Knowing the pros and cons between pine straw and mulch is an important step when creating a landscape design that will meet your style preferences, property needs, and more importantly, your budget.

Our company provides only the highest-quality mulch and pine straw installation services. We work with residential, commercial, and HOA properties throughout the Woodstock, Roswell, Alpharetta, and surrounding areas. Call today at (770) 738-9780 to receive an estimate!