Evergreen pine trees are beautiful, but the pine needles can be challenging to get rid of, especially if you have a couple of trees in your yard. Trees tend to shed off old needles from the inner part of the branches
as they age. Unfortunately, the wind doesn’t help clean up the pine needles, and you’ll need to use some other methods to get rid of pine needles.
The best way to get rid of pine needles is by sweeping, raking, vacuuming, using a leaf blower, or with the help of a garden shovel. Methods used will depend on where the pine needles fall, the amount, and the landscape.
In this detailed guide, we discuss how to get rid of pine needles in your yard and those on the rocks. We also look at how you can use the nutrient-rich pine needles in your yard.
How to Get Rid of Pine Needles from a Lawn or Grass
Dealing with pine needles in a lawn can be frustrating as the needles are thin, light, and small. Here are some ways you can get rid of pine needles from your lawn or yard.
Raking is one of the best ways to remove pine needles from your lawn. A regular rake will do the job, but you may need a special rake to pick up and move the pine needles. Check out best rake for pine needles.
However, if you may need to use a lawnmower before you plan on using a rake, that will help lessen the work of picking up the loose needles. Standard bag mowers will do the work, and you don’t have to worry about damaging the mower as the needles are too small to get caught up.
After using a lawnmower, you can use a rake to remove the leftover needles.
Choose a rake with a wood or steel handle as it’s guaranteed to be sturdy and lightweight. A rake with a bigger head size also makes your work easier, but it might make your work challenging if you plan on getting into tight spaces. Rust-proof metal tines are durable and perfect for picking up pine needles.
Sweeping is another simple way to clean up old pine needles. When using this method, you need to consider the number of pine needles you are dealing with and the terrain. If you’re dealing with a huge pile, you may want to use a leafblower before using a broom.
Nonetheless, if you are dealing with pine needles on your patio, pavement, or in between rocks, a broom will come in handy. Power brooms are useful when dealing with pine needles. You can also use a push broom as it has a wider, flat surface to cover a large area. Get one with stiff bristles.
- Use a Vacuum
Vacuum cleaners are mostly designed for getting rid of debris indoors. You need to be careful when using a vacuum outside as it could suck up sand, pebbles, and rocks that could break the machine.
Avoid running the vacuum directly over the pine needles, and instead, use an attachment on the end to clean up the needles. You can find vacuum cleaners designed for outdoor use, which makes them best suited for this work type.
Using a vacuum is less tedious and much easier compared to raking or sweeping. However, you may need to use other methods if you’re dealing with delicate gardens, rocky terrain, or a small space.
- Use Your Hands
Despite being one of the more strenuous and time-consuming activities, picking them up with your hands remains one of the best ways to eliminate pine needles. Remember to have gloves on when clearing the needles, as they can prick you.
Using your hands also allows you to reach tight spaces like near planters, underneath plants, stone walls, or rock gardens.
How to Get Rid of Pine Needles From Rocks
While you may be able to pick pine needles with a bag mower or rake them into a pile when they are on a grass lawn, the same can’t be said when they fall on a rocky surface. They become tricky to remove as using a rake or mower doesn’t work well with the rocks.
Here are some tips on how to remove pine needles from rocks.
- Get a Leaf Blower
One of the best ways to eliminate pine needles from rocks is to use a leaf blower. Start by aiming the blower at the pine needles towards the edge, which will blow them out instead of pushing them inside the rocks.
A handheld blower will work as pine needles are light and small. You should be done in a few minutes, but ensure you get a robust power setting that can move the needles and not the rocks. Be careful if you have other plants growing in a rock garden as a strong power setting can destroy the plants.
- Use a Power Washer
Start by spraying the rocks with a power washer to remove the needles from the rocks. That gets the needles off the rocks and onto the ground. You don’t need to take a step further if your concern is to remove the needles from the stones.
However, if you need to pick up the needles, you’ll need to roll a sticky mop over the rocks. Rinse the needles when the mop gets full and dispose of these needles or use them for mulching. You can also replace the head of the mop. Note that this method only works when dealing with big rocks.
Don’t use a power washer if you have small rocks or plants growing nearby. The best thing is that it cleans any stains on your rocks.
- Use a Vacuum
A vacuum with ample suction picks up heavy needles. Industrial vacuums have an exhaust side that you can use to blow the needles to a better place before vacuuming.
When handling a few needles on the ground, you can use strips of packing tape to pick them up. Put the adhesive tape over the needles and lift off the tape. Collect the needles in a plastic bag and dispose of them or place them in your compost pile. The method only works if you have a limited number of pine needles.
- A broom
A broom can help you clean off the needles when dealing with big rocks. Sweeping the needles may be tedious, but it’s one way to get the needles organized in a pile before collecting them for mulching. Using a broom also only works when you’re dealing with big rocks.
You can use a vacuum to pick the needles you’ve gathered after removing the needles from in between the rocks.
- Use a Small Shovel
You can also use a garden shovel to collect any fallen needles. However, this can be challenging, especially when dealing with dirt around the rocks.
Getting Rid of Pine Needles From Ponds and Pools
If you have a pine tree close to a pool or a pond, you’ll notice that the needles may fall onto the water and create a carpet-like appearance. You can remove the needles using a pool skimmer or a net to push the needles across the water and lift them out.
Rakes with long handles also come in handy when clearing off wet surfaces and can also be used for gutters, roofs, and other areas.
Recycling the Pine Needles
Pine trees are evergreens, and their needles provide a unique soil conditioner and mulch. Having two or three-inch layers of pine needles can help with water retention and protect the ground from temperature changes. These needles can also be added to your compost pile. Simply separate them and mix them with weeds and grass clippings. Applying compost buffers the acidity.
One of the significant concerns about using pine needles as mulch is the rate of decomposition. Fortunately, you can speed up the process by using foliage high in nitrogen like manure, grains, or blood meal. You’ll need to keep turning them around to keep the temperatures high. It may take up to two months for pine needles to fully decompose.
Pine needles are fluffy and light, something that makes them simple to spread. They don’t compact a lot as they decompose, which means it doesn’t become too thick. It’s easy to get pine needles as pine trees drop their old needles once a year.
Pine needles don’t form a crust, which means they won’t roll away after a light rain. You can easily remove the needles when you need to change the crop, and the best part is that they don’t acidify the soil. With a PH of 3.5, pine needles become neutral as they decompose.
Using pine straw provides a free source of carbon material for compost while reducing environmental waste.
On the downside, pine needles are light, which means you need to layer them to create a thick surface to keep weeds from growing. Note that having thick mulch may not work for short plants. Pine needles have to be raked back after a windstorm as they are light.
Pine needle mulch can be easy to ignite when dry, exposing you to a fire hazard if you live in a wildfire danger zone.
When is the Best Time to Apply Pine Straw Mulch?
The best time to apply the pine straw is during fall, as it protects against the cold season. Using the mulch during spring reduces spring weeds, retains heat in the soil, and increases tilth. Coverage will depend on the application depth, type of pine straw, and bale size.
Shake the pine straw as you would with regular straw to form a fluffy layer. That helps it to settle in place.
Remember to use some gloves when applying pine straw as mulch as the needles can be prickly when handling them with bare hands.
Why are Pine Needles Difficult to Remove?
Pine trees have shedding seasons throughout the year. Old needles turn brown and drop, while younger needles replace them at any time. Needles fall off at different rates, depending on the year, the pine tree’s health, and the growth stage.
New needles are produced every spring as old needles are pushed to the inside of the tree. The problem with the old needles is that they become less efficient as they can’t produce the tree’s energy. They eventually turn brown and fall off.
These needles are thin and small and tend to shed in significant numbers, making them challenging to remove. What’s more, the needles get stuck in between rocks, in mulch, or in your yard, which can be overwhelming.
Unlike deciduous leaves that can be mowed and chopped, pine needles are small and take time to break down.
Do Pine Needles Kill Grass?
Unfortunately, leaving pine needles on the grass for too long can kill it. That’s because the needles block sunlight and air from reaching the grass and end up damaging it. The needles also starve your grass as they compete for moisture with the grass. Although pine needles have a neutral PH, the little acid can leach into the soil and kill the grass.
The problem with having a pine needle buildup is that it makes it challenging to reclaim the same piece of land and grow new grass. The shade and acidic soil will take time before it clears. That’s why you need to get rid of pine needles before they kill the grass.
Pine trees are beautiful to have around your lawn, yard, or rocky gardens. The problem is that they tend to shed multiple pine needles annually, and clearing these needles can be a tedious task. However, with the above methods, you should be able to get rid of pine needs quickly and straightforwardly.
The method you choose will depend on the terrain you are handling and the size of your lawn. Remember that you can use pine needles as mulch in your garden, but you need to be patient and wait for them to decompose.