Why Choose Pine Straw Mulch For Your Landscaping Design
In Cumming, pine straw is a popular choice for landscape design. There are multiple reasons it makes a great mulch for this area:
1) Pine straw is a more cost effective option than other mulches
2) Pine straw is a natural, renewable, and sustainable mulch product
3) Pine straw benefits your soil in multiple ways including insulating plant roots, conserving moisture/preventing dry out, and preventing erosion.
4) Pine straw breaks down slowly and requires less frequent application to keep it looking good
5) Pine straw does not change the pH of soil
6) Pine straw does not require the destruction of trees
7) Pine straw does not wash out of your landscape bed like other mulches
8) Pine straw is low maintenance
9) Pine straw prevents weeds
10) Pine straw is visually appealing in the south as pine trees are common throughout our landscape
Overall, pine straw is by far the most cost effective, best bang for your buck mulch product in the Cumming, GA area, but there are different types of straw and each has it’s own pros and cons.
Types of Pine Straw You’ll Find In Cumming, GA
In general there are three types of straw you might consider in the Cumming area. They are Longleaf (or Long Needle), Slash, and Loblolly. Sometimes you’ll also see these mentioned by their scientific names, which are Pinus Palustris, Pinus Elliottii, and Pinus Taeda.
Longleaf (Long Needle)
Longleaf is the premium pine straw everyone likes to have in their landscaping. The needles are longer, richly colored, thicker, and waxier than other types. Because of these traits, longleaf is durable and keeps a better look for a longer period of time than other straws. Lawnshavers uses longleaf pine straw exclusively for it’s superior benefits to other straws.
Considered slash to be your “standard” pine straw. Big box home improvement stores usually carry slash. It tends to be a clean, affordable pine straw, but lacks the impressive color of long needle. We have found our customers generally do not prefer slash pine straw when compared to long needle pine straw’s more polished appearance.
Loblolly pine straw consists of the shortest needles of the three most common types of straws. It tends to be the least expensive pine straw and spreads easily, but does not have the longevity of other straws. Many landscapers do not use loblolly pine straw given the desire for more premium straws as the price difference, while less, is not very significant.
How To Purchase Pine Straw In Cumming, GA
There are generally three ways to purchase pine straw in our area:
1. You can pick up pine straw at a local supply store. In addition to big box stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, you should consider local landscaping supply stores. You will find most professional landscapers prefer local supply stores for their fresh, quality product. Obviously, with this option, you will be expected to have the do the installation yourself.
2. You can have a company deliver your new straw to your house but not install it. Some local supply companies will deliver straw product to your house for a product and delivery fee.
3. You can have a company, such as Lawnshavers, deliver and install your new straw upon arrival. For the time involved, this is usually the most cost-effective option.
We’ll go into the installation process in a few moments, but this is a good time to let you know that installing pinestraw yourself can be long, hamstring-taxing work if you don’t do it very often. An experienced worker might install up to 15-20 bales an hour. Our experience with training suggest that an inexperienced person will struggle to complete 10-11 bales an hour until they learn proper technique and build the leg and back stamina needed to complete longer work. This does not include the time needed for clean up and tucking.
A Few Notes About Pine Straw Bales and Pricing
Many homeowners don’t realize that pine bales come in different sizes and densities. This leads to some common misconceptions about pine straw bales and pricing. It also allows for some scams you should be aware of.
The main thing to know is that these variations mean that even if you pay the same price per bale, you may need a different number of bales to cover your particular landscaping depending on the supplier.
The first challenge you’ll run into is that pine straw is generally sold in a bale. A supplier may ask you, “How many bales do you need?” Well, if the bales come in different sizes, you can’t possibly know how many bales you need for your particular coverage area. If you’re installing straw yourself, this means you could easily buy too many bales than you need, or have to go back for more.
Lawnshavers has solved this problem for you. Because we delivery and install pine straw directly, we actually don’t price our pine straw by the bale. Instead, have a flat rate price we charge per sq/ft of coverage need.
Instead of guessing, we measure your coverage area. Over time, we’ve tracked the average number of how bales we need to cover specific areas. We then give you a flat price for coverage rather than an inaccurate guesstimate of bales needed. If we’re short a few bales because the bales are two small, you don’t pay any extra, and if we ended up with more straw than we need because the bales are too big, you don’t pay extra for bales you didn’t need either. We cover the costs either way.
A Common Scam
Our method of pricing also protects you from a very common pine straw installation scam. A quick google search will give you more information if you want, but here’s the idea:
Basically an installer will look at your property and tell you need, say, 100 bales, and they charge $6.50 per bale installed. Then while you’re at work, they come by and install pinestraw throughout your landscaping, but they only used 70 bales.
Because they “sold” you 100 bales, you will be billed $650 for the work. And because you were gone to work, you won’t know how many bales were actually used, and they won’t tell you that you should have only paid $455 based on their original quote. Basically, they sold you 70 bales for $9.29/each.
They simply pocket the difference and you’re none the wiser… at least until you hire a more reputable company to do it in the future.
Because this scam is rampant within the industry, we simplified the process for all involved. Our pricing is based on the sq/ft of coverage area and the sq/ft pricing changes depending on the size of the job.
Proper Pine Straw Distribution
Pine straw distribution in your landscape is fairly straight forward. We generally recommend a straw mat of about 4 inches when finally settled.
If you have old straw that’s lost it’s color, this may mean removing some of your old straw before installing new straw, or simply applying a thin layer across the old straw for color. In generally, a typical application will be 4 to 6 “fluffy” inches, which will flatten after a rain shower or two.
If there is no existing bed of straw, a bed of 6 to 8 inches would be recommended and perhaps a second application after the initial application has settled to insure adequate depth for weed prevention and moisture control.
Pine straw should be kept slightly away from the base of shrubs in your landscape beds. 2 to 4 inches is plenty.
How To Install Pine Straw
Lawnshavers will happily install pine straw for you, but if you choose to do it yourself, let us offer a few suggestions to make your life easier.
First, you will find yourself bending over frequently. If you have lower back issues, you should take care not to over do it.
Depending on your existing pine straw thickness, you may want to spread your new straw thinner or thicker. This means that each bale may cover an area anywhere from 30-100 sq/ft. For most applications, we would expect a bale to cover 30-60 sq/ft.
Start by placing bales in convenient locations around the landscape at spaces of approximately every 50 sq/ft.
Each bale will likely be tied with two quick release knots. A good pull of the loose end, should release the knot and pine straw. If not, keep a knife handy to quickly cut the twine. Or you could simply do it like the pros and yank the straw right out of the twine without releasing the knot or cutting it.
Once released, you’ll notice the pine straw will come apart in smaller clumps. Pick up a clump.
Now, pull that clump apart to loosen it and shake it forcefully. You’ll see now the clump now comes apart and the pine straw falls loose and fluffy to the bed below.
This is the general idea of how you should apply all the pine straw throughout your yard. You may find this method slow at first. Learn to violently shake out each clump directly to make it faster and easier.
Continue this process until your spread straw throughout the needed coverage area. Be sure to pick out any unsightly sticks, pinecones, or other debris. You will also find you may have to manually place some straw under shrubs and around flowers.
Once complete, the final step of the process is called tucking. As you distribute the straw, you should leave several inches outside of the bed and in the grass. This is so that you can “tuck” this extra straw back up under the edge of the bed to create that classic “cloud” look quality landscapes are known for.
Tucking with a leaf blower will yield the best results, but it can be done by hand if needed. Carefully direct the air stream of the leaf blower toward the excess straw you want to tuck and allow it to roll under the bed. You will quickly get the hang of it.
Lastly, clean up any debris, twine, or other mess from your grass or walkways, step back, and enjoy a completed job well done.
Fun Facts About Pine Straw
Whether in a natural forest of trees or a planted pine stands, pine needles are generally raked and baled before being sold as landscaping mulch throughout the southeastern United States. In plantations with evenly spaced trees, it’s common for bales to be compiled by powered balers.
According to a UGA article, as of 2012, pine straw cultivation in Georgia is a more than $80 million dollar industry, which was a more than five-fold increase in revenue 2000 when the cultivation of pine straw was about a $15.5 million dollar industry.