The Twelve Days of a Green Christmas…Seventh Day

On the seventh day of Christmas my green friend gave to me…seven bales of straw…six coffee plants…five bamboo toothbrushes…four stainless straws…three pairs of socks…two recycled pallets…and a new electric car!

The weather has been pretty nice lately here in NE Florida so I’ve been spending time in the yard getting ready for spring. I plan on spreading the seven bales of pine-straw soon if the weather stays as nice for another week.

My green friend and I spent quite a bit of time talking about different types of mulches and decided the most eco-friendly mulch would be pine straw or needles. As I try to encourage homeowners to add trees to their landscape or not cut down existing trees for many environmental reasons I also try to discourage the use of cypress mulches even though most of the neighbors use cypress much.

Cypress forests are critical to the ecosystems of our southern states i.e. Florida and Louisiana. They are key elements in our wetlands and provide protection from storms. Sadly, logging has taken its toll on the cypress population and virtually all old-growth cypress groves have been clear cut. What is remaining is under attack by the cypress mulch industry which is endangering the remaining forests! Clever marketing by those mulch companies has convinced homeowners that nothing beats cypress mulch in keeping down weeds which is definitely a myth!

Pine straw Photo credit: Lowes

Pine needles or straw are the product of natural shedding of needles from a pine tree  and then harvested for mulch. Trees are not cut down, there is little to no waste and no environmental damage. The bales cost less than most other mulches and the needles serve many purposes. They regulate the temperature of the soil, keeping it warmer in cold winter and cooler in summer. They lock moisture in the soil, keep weeds down and, ultimately, decompose improving soil condition.

Geraniums, snapdragons, magnolias, hydrangeas, camellias, azaleas are a few of the common flowers and shrubbery that love the nutrients from pine straw. With a tendency for the needles to interlock pine straw makes the mulch harder to blow away while rain water is absorbed by the needles instead of washing away minimizing the evaporation.

Termites can thrive in the layer of moisture under any mulch but pine needles, unlike wood mulches, have a very low cellulose content. Bugs find little to eat making pine needles are more resistant to many bugs including termite colonies than other mulches, Whatever mulch you decide to use make certain it does not butt up to the foundation of your house to reduce the risk of termites in your home. A one to two foot buffer between your house and any plant or mulch material is recommended.

As we end 2019 I would like to thank you for taking time to read my post and wish you a Happy New Year!. Please come back tomorrow for the Eighth Day of a Green Christmas! If you’re curious about the history of the Twelve Days of Christmas you can find that here. Join me tomorrow and see what my Green Friend gifts me…I’m sure it will be fun, educational, or possibly edible! Whatever the gift I know it will make a positive impact on the environment!