Pine Straw – Origins

Q: Having relocated from the Pacific Northwest, we had never seen pine straw used in landscaping. Where does it come from and how is it harvested? What are the benefits, if any, over “beauty bark” which is popular back home?

A: I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the term “beauty bark”. What a nice phrase!

Beauty bark in the Northwest is mainly Douglas fir bark. We recycle pine bark in the same way…we just call it “pine bark chips”.

Pine straw, of course, is composed of the needles that fall from pine trees. South Georgia and north Florida are the centers of pine straw harvesting, in the pine pulpwood plantations. Crews scatter through the woods and rake pine straw all day, which is hand-pressed into bales. Bales are loaded onto trucks and delivered to garden centers all over Atlanta.

I think the choice between bark and straw is a matter of personal taste. Both decompose gradually and replenish soil organic matter so use them regularly.

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