Leftover Pine Needles for Use as Mulch

Asked December 3, 2015, 1:33 PM EST

My husband just swept up six bags of pine needles from the alley behind our house. Instead of putting them out for trash, can we use them as mulch for our fig tree, rhododendrom, dogwood, other pine trees? He thought they might be too acidic. Many thanks for your help!

Baltimore Maryland

3 Responses

Pine needles can be a great mulch. Go ahead and use them. As with all mulches, don't pile it up against the trunks of trees. You can use it deeply during the winter, but during the growing season, mulches should only be about 2-4 inches deep.


Thank you very much for your answer. My husband thought that the mulch would protect the fig tree so he thought the mulch should also be against the tree itself, but you are saying not to put the mulch next to the tree but around it. I assumed that is because the mulch keeps the ground a bit warmer and thus protects the tree. Why should the mulch not be next to the tree, I wonder.

Thank you again!

See our website regarding suggestions to protect your fig tree during the winter for ground grown plants as well as figs grown in containers.
Some growers encircle their fig plant with chicken wire and fill in with insulating leaves, and straw. The top of the plant can be covered with a plastic tarp to shed rain, sleet, and snow. It is okay to encircle the plant with pine needles and other materials for protection. However, when mulch is piled around the trunk it can be attractive to voles. They can girdle the lower trunk and/or feed on the roots. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/voles As mentioned above, remove the winter protection in the spring after danger of frost. http://extension.umd.edu/growit/fruit/figs