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Can You Mulch With Pine Shavings

Mulching is a common technique used by gardeners and landscapers worldwide. It simply requires spreading a thin layer of loose, nutrient-dense, organic material on top of the soil in your garden beds. Not only is it visually appealing because it helps prevent weed growth, but it also conserves the moisture in your soil and aids in keeping your plants happy and healthy. It only requires spreading a thin layer of mulch over the soil surface in your garden beds. An interesting idea for mulching is grounded down trees. There are theories that pine trees are a good option. Now you must be wondering, can you mulch with pine shavings?

You can mulch with pine shavings. They are a budget-friendly way to recycle old trees or tree limbs. You must remember that pine shavings lack nitrogen, so fertilizer will be essential if you are mulching around plants that require good nitrogen levels. Also, it is necessary to have a pH testing kit, as pine shavings can mess with the acidity in the soil. 

Please keep reading to learn more about pine shavings and how to mulch with them successfully.

Ways To Productively Mulch With Pine Shavings

  1. Use pine shavings as bedding in animal enclosures, allowing the pine shavings to absorb animal urine and manure, giving it more nutrients to aid in plant growth and health. Also, the animals will break down the shavings into finer pieces creating more of a compost material. Whatever time you typically leave your animal bedding down before you freshen it should be adequate time for your pine shavings.
  2. Don’t mix the pine shavings with the soil; only use them as a layer of mulch on top of the soil. When broken down, pine shavings become very acidic and can make the soil pH too high for many plants to thrive in. Rake gently and avoid using tilling tools or machines in your garden beds, and it shouldn’t be an issue.
  3. Try mixing your pine shavings with a store-bought fertilizer. You must ensure that the fertilizer has adequate nitrogen to make your pine shavings into a more nutrient-dense mulch. Pay attention to the nitrogen content on the label of your fertilizer package. One pound of nitrogen will supplement 50 pounds of pine shavings. You can use that ratio as a guide for the different amounts of pine shavings you may have.

Are There Downsides To Using Pine Shavings As Mulch?

Of course. Although pine shavings are an affordable and ethical material to use as mulch, they still have downsides. Below is a list of negative factors to consider when mulching with pine shavings and ideas to avoid or prevent them from causing you trouble.

Cost- 

You can easily use fallen pine trees or dead limbs to produce mulch, but they have to be broken down into the shavings, and that can become costly. Using a small wood chipper would be best to get the perfect pine mulch consistency.

If you don’t already own a wood chipper or know of someone that does, you may be able to check your local equipment rental company to see if they have them available. Purchasing or renting a wood chipper could certainly steer some people away from using pine shavings as mulch.

Safety-

Wood is a flammable material, and wood shavings are used to start fires. This can be a scary thought when using pine shavings as mulch. The top layer will become flammable and dangerous if you don’t consistently wet your garden. You must keep any fire pit or possible spark very far away from your garden beds when using pine shavings as mulch. This could be an uncomfortable and frightening method for many. 

Pests-

Wood attracts termites because of the fact it’s their food source. A termite looking for food will quickly be drawn to a garden bed with fresh pine shavings as mulch.

If your gardens are within a foot of a wood structure like a house, shed, or barn, termites might migrate from the pine shavings to the structures. They will eventually begin to deteriorate as the termites feed off of them. When mulching with pine shavings, you must place your gardens a foot away from any wood structures to avoid infestations. 

Maintenance-

Pine shavings can be packed down very easily. You must rake them and loosen them up regularly when mulching with them. If you aren’t loosening them often enough, they will eventually pack down to a dense layer that will prevent water from getting to the roots of your plants.

Mulch must also be light and airy to allow adequate airflow and prevent moisture from getting trapped beneath the surface and causing rotting. Make sure to stay on top of your raking routine to ensure healthy plants when using pine shavings as mulch.

Conclusion

Pine shavings can be a great source of mulch for your garden beds. Like anything in this world, pine may have its downsides when used as mulch, but there are always ways to enhance its performance and protect against its risks.

If you have downed pine trees or limbs or even free access to some, this mulching method will work well for you. It’s a great way to recycle and use something you may otherwise throw out.

Perform regular maintenance on your pine shavings, like keeping them moist and loosening them up with a rake, and don’t forget to add fertilizer to them or use them as animal bedding to ensure they are packed with nutrients. Mulching doesn’t have to be overcomplicated. It’s supposed to be a simple way to ensure your plants thrive and receive the love they need to grow and produce.