Pine straw – Weed control

Q: We have a large area covered in pine straw. Roundup is fine for spot killing the weeds but what do you recommend to lay down for more control of weeds?

A: If there are trees or shrubs in the pine straw area, I don’t recommend laying down anything. Black plastic sheet is out of the question because it prevents water and oxygen from getting to plant roots. Porous weed fabric allows water through but it can be problematic too. The straw will have to be taken off the fabric by hand (no rakes) each year and replaced. Otherwise the straw will decompose on top of the fabric and will make a great place for weed seeds to sprout. If you pull up a weed that’s rooted through the fabric, it pulls up the fabric as well. You can chemically sterilize the soil for several months but again, there can be NO plant roots underneath or nearby. I think soil sterilants are better suited for gravel driveways, not landscapes.

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