In the development of a vibrant, beautiful garden it is beneficial to build on good soil. Another important consideration is the type of mulch you apply, since mulch will eventually break down and become the soil that surrounds your plants.

In Central Pennsylvania, the mulch that is cheapest, most readily available, and most commonly used is hardwood mulch. Unfortunately, this type of mulch is the worst type for most plants. As it decomposes, it becomes a dense, impenetrable carpet that restricts air and water to plant roots while providing a fertile surface for weeds. This type of mulch does not provide the acid that many plants require, so the addition of an acid supplement is often necessary.

A far better choice are mulches made from Pine products, such as Pine bark or Pine straw. These mulches are permeable even as they decompose, allowing adequate air and moisture to reach plant roots. Pine mulch products are also acidic and therefore provide the acid many plants need in order to thrive. Although Pine mulch products are slightly more costly and not as readily available as hardwood mulches, we recommend, sell, and install Pine mulch products in the gardens we develop. Pine mulch products are a better value than hardwood mulches since they provide the nutrients and growing conditions that promote health, beauty, and longevity for your valuable plants.

Contributed by Betty Hanselman
Gardener’s wife (& Pine product promoter)

Japanese Maples, Rhododendrons, Azaleas and other acid-loving plants thrive in Pine product mulches such as Pine nuggets (top) and Pine straw (bottom).