What is Pine Bark Mulch, Benefits, Uses and Problems? (2023)

Last updated Jul 5, 2021 | Soil

What is Pine Bark Mulch, Benefits, Uses and Problems? (1)

Pine bark mulch saves your garden plants in winter by protecting them from extreme cold weather. It also helps your garden plants to produce 50% more flowers, vegetables, and herbs. Pine mulch keeps the soil temperature low in the summer season.

Also, keep the soil moist so that plants cannot die due to hot waves or loss of water (dryness).

If you are a grower and want all the benefits of mulches then try pine bark mulch in your garden. You will like the results.

In today’s post you will learn about pine bark mulch, how to use it, pros and cons, where to buy it, Is it safe for plants and pets, etc.

Let’s start from the basics

What is pine bark mulch?

Pine bark mulch is made from pine tree bark. It is light in weight and is easy to spread all over the garden in just a few minutes. It has its unique benefits over other mulches. It is the protective layer of your garden plants and soil. No weeds when there is mulch in the lawn and garden.

In garden stores, we have pure pine bark mulch and mixed pine bark mulch. Garden stores mix spruce and fir to make the mulch suitable for every type of lawn and garden. Sometimes they mix more things in it. If you are buying it from your local garden store then confirm the total percentage of shredded pine bark in the bag.

The pine mulch is available in different textures like other mulches.

(Video) 🌲 Pros and Cons of Bark Mulch - QG Day 140 🌲

Fine shred mulch, double shredded mulch, and pine nuggets.

Don’t get confused by the name pine nuggets it is also a mulch the only difference is it comes in big chips. Pine tree nuggets are big in size so they take a long time to break down and decompose in the soil. Whereas fine and double shredded pine mulch start melting into the soil after 2 years.

Types of pine bark mulches

There is a total of 4 types of pine mulches available for growing different vegetables and flower plants. You can choose according to your plant types and garden needs.

Fine Shredded Pine mulch:

This fine mulch is suitable in compact gardens where we grow plants in a group. By spreading this fine grade mulch your little plants get support to stand firm. Also, it helps soil to retain moisture for a long time. This way your seedlings never go out of water and nutrients. for delicate plants and shoots always use fine grade pine mulch.

Pine Nuggets:

Big size pine barks are called pine nuggets. This mulch is the most suitable in heavy wind and rainy areas. Where small mulch can be flown away from strong wind and rainwater. These nuggets stay in their place in all weather conditions. Also, you can use pine bark nuggets on sloppy areas.

Premium bark mulch:

This quality of pine bark is suitable to grow plant-like rose plants. Because it is perfect to grow plants that like to grow in little acidic soil. The two fold press technique is used to make premium grade pine barks.

Double Shredded Pine bark:

This pine bark is best for top dressing where you need to give colors to your garden. Do not use it in heavy windy areas. No doubt it starts melting in the soil within 2 years. But it looks great in the garden and around big trees. It gives a neat and clean look to your lawn and garden.

(Video) Pine Bark Mulch Problems

How it is different from other mulches?

It is organic mulch and is easily available in all parts of the country. The best part is it is cheaper than the rubber and mineral shreds. Also, it enriches the soil when it breaks down. It is a soil conditioner for the garden soil. The best part is you can add it to any potting mix and soil. Where other mulches get weak in the summer heat. Pine bark mulch does not lose its color and works well to save water from evaporation.

Benefits of using pine bark mulch in your garden.

Hold moisture in Soil:

Keeping the soil moist for growing plants is a very important step of gardening. But on hot summer days, it is not possible to keep the soil moist because the water get evaporates. It is also not possible to give water to plants 3 times a day. Even it is not allowed as per the law in some states.

Mulch protects the soil from hot sunrays and the water in the soil evaporates 75% less than ever before. It also keeps the plant roots temperature under control. In winters it acts as insulation and keeps the roots warm. Whereas in summer it protects them from direct hot sun rays.

Reduce weed problem:

It will reduce weed problems and also reduces the chances of nutrient deficiency in plants. The weeds will grow in unplanted areas and eat up all nutrients. When weeds are present in the garden plants always show signs of nutrients deficiency.

The mulch covers the unplanted area around your plants. And block the sunlight to weed seeds. They do grow because they do not get sunlight. On the other hand, your plants grow healthy because they get the full sunlight and a good amount of nutrients.

Add humus to soil:

Humus is naturally found nutrients in the soil by the decomposing of organic matter. Like in forests the upper layer of the soil is total humus. Because the leaves and branches of plants that fall on the area get decompose in the soil. This process adds a good amount of organic nutrients to it. Pine bark also add humus when it gets completely decompose into the soil.

Soil retention and erosion control

When you mix pie bark of medium size deep in the soil this prevents soil erosion. Soil erosion is the condition in which the upper layer of the soil gets depleted. The erosion process gets faster in windy areas. If you are living in the valley don’t worry about soil erosion. But if you live in hilly areas you need to consider pine barks.


Colorful decor

Pine bark gives excellent color to your lawn and garden. if we compare pine bark with other mulches it retains its natural color for more than 2 years. Where other mulches fade due to sunlight in 6 months. Pine bark remain bright pinkish-brown for more than 2 years. The decoration is also necessary to make a garden beautiful and appealing.

Is pine mulch bad for soil?

No pine bark is not bad for soil and plants. But if your soil is acidic in nature then do not use mulch made from the pine trees. Because the pine barks are a little on the acidic side on the pH scale. So, for normal pH soil or Alkaline soil pine barks are best to mix with.

Does pine mulch kill plants?

Pine mulch is safe for plants and all types of gardens. But the condition is where pine mulch is used the growing plants should be acidic soil tolerant.

Is it safe for pets?

Yes, it is safe for pets. Cocoa bean mulch is not safe for pets and sometimes local garden stores add pine barks in cocoa bean mulch. Do not buy such mulch if you have pets at home.

If you do not have pets but are suffering from unwanted intruders (rodents, deer) then use cocoa bean mulch in your garden. They will not come close to your garden.


Keep soil temperature under control

Reduce weeds

Protect your plants

Best to support delicate plants

(Video) Pine Bark Vs. Hardwood Mulch

Easily available

Different forms are available for different gardens

Conditions the soil

Enrich soil when decomposed


Little acidic in nature

Not best to use in container gardening

Problems with pine bark mulch

Normally pine bark does not cause any harm to plants and the soil. But used for more than 5 to 6 years it alters the soil pH and eats up the nitrogen. This affects the growth of your plants and yield.

Pine bark mulch and soil pH: As we know pine bark is a little bit acidic this acid goes to the soil when used for a long time. And the soil becomes acidic in nature. This affects the pants that like to live in alkaline nature. But on the other hand, it is best to make alkaline soil a little acidic for growing plants like roses.

To prevent pine bark mulch from increasing your garden soil acidity. Use hardwood after every 2 years and then again use pine bark.

Pine bark nuggets: They cause problems only in heavy rainfall areas. Due to their big size, they start floating in the water. This is the only problem with the large size nuggets. Otherwise, they are best to use in sloppy places.


If you like to mulch your garden then use pine bark. Do not use large nuggets in your lawn and garden. Because nuggets take a long time to decompose and this will increase the soil acidity to great extent. Fine grade pine bark mulch is best for growing plants like herbs, vegetables, and houseplants

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(Video) Pine Bark Mulch or Pine Fines.


What are the benefits of pine bark mulch? ›

Pine bark mulches don't matt down as easily as cedar so you won't have to rake them as often. They also retain moisture well and will protect the soil from external temperature changes. Aged pine bark mulch is very rich in nutrients and can help your flowering plants thrive.

What can bark mulch be used for? ›

It's often used to condition the soil and discourage weed growth. Organic mulches include bark chippings, shredded bark, wood chippings, wood shavings and compost. These materials retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weeds.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of mulch? ›

Organic mulches are natural products from leaves, trees, grass, and other plant material, often from your own yard. They mimic nature, breaking down gradually over time. The advantage is that they are truly adding organic matter to the soil. The disadvantage is that they must be replenished periodically.

What can you use pine tree bark for? ›

Pine bark extract is an herbal supplement rich in healthy polyphenols like procyanidins, catechins, and phenolic acids. These plant compounds appear to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects on the human body. As such, pine bark extract shows great potential as a therapeutic herbal supplement.

What plants benefit from pine mulch? ›

Plants That Benefit from Pine Mulch
  • Blueberries. Blueberries prefer acid soils with a pH level of about 4.5 (soils with a pH of 7 or less is considered acidic). ...
  • Hostas. ...
  • Flowering Annuals. ...
  • Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Camellias. ...
  • Flowering Perennials.

Is pine A good mulch? ›

Pine needles are naturally acidic as they break down, making them excellent for mulching around plants that prefer acidic soils (azaleas, rhododendrons,camellias, etc.) During heavy rain events, pine needles tend to stay put and not wash away, making them an excellent choice on slopes.

How good is bark mulch? ›

There are many benefits to using bark mulch:

Suppresses weeds. Keeps dust from blowing around. Keeps the soil cool. Makes the garden bed look more attractive by dressing up the beds with texture and colour.

What are the problems of mulching? ›

Plant problems caused by too much mulch

Excessive mulch reduces soil oxygen for roots, suffocating them and causing them to die. Roots in search of oxygen and water sometimes grow into excess mulch. During dry periods the mulch dries out and the roots in the mulch die.

Can mulch cause health problems? ›

Fungal Spores and wood dust from mulch are known health risks to humans. Hazards of mycotoxins and mycotoxigenic fungi are well documented in peer reviewed studies within the US and Internationally. Wood dust has been long established as a carcinogen.

Which is the main disadvantage of mulching? ›

Although using mulch has many benefits, it cal also be detrimental to the garden in mainly two ways: Overmulching can bury and suffocate plants. Mulch provides a convenient hiding place for pests. Bake your plants with excess heat if don incorrectly.

Will pine bark stop weeds? ›

Both types of mulch can help deter the growth and spread of weeds. Bark mulches can do this naturally.

Are termites attracted to pine bark mulch? ›

Many people ask whether wood mulch will attract termites. Studies show that while termites may feed on wood mulch it is not an adequate source of nutrition. Therefore, it is unlikely that termites would seek it out as a food source.

Is pine bark toxic to plants? ›

Pine bark chips also have no nutrients and take a long time to break down, but pine bark does contain tannins. Tannins reduce weed growth but, unfortunately, they reduce the growth of wanted plants too.

Does pine mulch attract mosquitoes? ›

Wet mulch, along with other common yard decorations such as pine straw and wet soil in a flower bed, can hold enough moisture below the surface to attract mosquitoes. Once mosquitoes identify an area as moist enough to lay eggs, they will nest there, and other mosquitoes will follow.

Is pine bark mulch good for vegetables? ›

Pine Bark Mulch

Like straw, it's good for tender plants and emerging seedlings. Ground pine bark mulch is also easy to spread and quickly works to improve your soil as it breaks down. If you are worried that pine bark might rob nitrogen from your soil, don't be.

Why is pine mulch better? ›

Advantages of Pine Bark Mulch

Pine bark mulch costs less than many other organic options. It's also very easy to apply because of its low weight. While it does tend to decompose quicker than hardwood, pine bark mulch is still long-lasting. And it adds a lot of valuable nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

What is the most common use of mulch? ›

Uses. Many materials are used as mulches, which are used to retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, suppress weed growth, and for aesthetics. They are applied to the soil surface, around trees, paths, flower beds, to prevent soil erosion on slopes, and in production areas for flower and vegetable crops.

What is the important of mulching and its benefits? ›

It helps reduce evaporation and retain moisture, reduce soil erosion, suppress weed growth and provide plant nutrients as the material decomposes. Mulch can be used in fields before and after planting, as well as around young crop plants.

Is mulch good for the soil? ›

Mulch reduces soil water losses, suppresses weeds, and protects against temperature extremes, especially in places where it snows. Mulch also feeds soil biology as it decomposes, helping to create healthy, living soil. Healthy soil means healthy plants!

Does pine mulch repel insects? ›

While organic mulches naturally decompose and are beneficial, they also attract insects looking for warmth, shelter, and food. Insects eat the pine bark mulch along with the bacteria and fungi harbored within its moist, dark confines. Pests that aren't true insects but are linked with infestations include spiders.

What are the pros and cons of pine mulch? ›

  • PROS: Free! Good weed suppression; stay in place well; good on slopes; slow to break down; increase acidity, which benefits some plants (blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, and some types of conifers).
  • CONS: Prickly to work with; soil acidification.

What are the disadvantages of bark? ›

Disadvantages of Bark Mulch

Bark mulch applied too deeply around plants can cause plant injury by reducing soil oxygen. To prevent this, apply small chips in layer about 1 to 2 inches thick and larger chips about 3 to 4 inches deep.

Which mulch is best to prevent weeds? ›

Bark mulch is the best choice for use as a weed suppressant as it inhibits weeds in two critical ways. First, by applying a thick layer covering the soil, bark mulch deprives the weed seeds in the soil, and their resulting seedlings, of the sunlight desperately needed to germinate and thrive.

What is the safest mulch to use? ›

When it comes to the garden, organic and natural is the best way to go. Not only are they safe to use around food producing plants, they also enrich your garden soil quickly. For mulching directly around plants, compost, shredded leaves, grass clippings or straw are all great options.

What type of bark mulch is best? ›

Shredded Bark

It comes from a variety of sources, including cedar trees. Shredded bark is one of the best mulch types to use on slopes, and it breaks down relatively slowly. As a bonus, some shredded bark mulches are byproducts of other industries and are considered environmentally friendly.

Is mulch or pine bark better? ›

Benefits of Pine Bark Mulch

Pine bark mulch in gardens tends to last longer than most organic mulches, whether finely shredded or in nugget form. The natural red-dark brown color of pine bark mulch also lasts longer than other wood mulches, which tend to fade to gray after a year.

How long will bark last? ›

In general gardening terms, bark mulch and wood chippings will have a practical life span of 4 – 7 years and an aesthetic life span of 1 -2 years depending on the levels of usage.

How does mulch affect the environment? ›

An appropriate mulch can reduce the need for irrigation and in some landscapes can eliminate irrigation all together. Coarse organic mulches protect soil water reserves holding water for later release and prevent runoff. Mulch can also protect trees and shrubs from drought stress and cold injury.

Does mulching cause termites? ›

Does Mulch Attract Termites? While the material itself does not draw termites to the area, mulch spread over three inches deep creates an inviting habitat for the pests. Layers of organic matter trap heat and moisture next to the ground. Termites use this thick mulch as shelter from harsh weather.

Can mulch cause drainage problems? ›

Water from the mulch can get into your basement and encourage mold growth and wood rot. To curb these problems, fix foundation cracks and waterproof the basement. But that's not the only problem. Mulch can retain water and make your yard soggy and muddy.

Does bark mulch have chemicals? ›

Nevertheless, it has been found that some of the recycled waste wood used for making landscape mulch products is contaminated with various chemicals, such as creosote and CCA (chromated copper arsenate). CCA, of course, is the chemical that was used in the manufacture of pressure-treated wood.

Is there bacteria in mulch? ›

Bacteria are microscopic organisms that are not visible in the mulch. Fungi also may be microscopic, but many develop visible reproductive structures. The fungi involved in the decomposition of landscape mulches are natural components of the mulch environment.

Is bark mulch toxic? ›

This was years ago. Since then, the EPA ban on chromium-copper arsenate treated wood (CCA's) and a tightly regulated construction and demolition (C&D) industry have practically eliminated the possibility of your bark mulch being toxic. The dyes used to color bark mulch are organically based and not harmful at all.

What is a good organic mulch? ›

Organic mulch materials include grain straw, fresh or old hay, fresh-cut forage or cover crops, chipped brush, wood shavings, tree leaves, cotton gin waste, rice or buckwheat hulls, and other crop residues. Hay and straw are among the most widely used organic mulches in organic horticulture.

Should I water before or after mulching? ›

You should spread your mulch to be two to four inches thick. If your mulch is too thin, then weeds can push through. If your mulch is too thick, it prevents water from reaching the soil. Water after mulching — This is an optional step, but a final watering can help settle the mulch into place.

Can you put bark straight into soil? ›

Wood, including bark from larger, mature trees can be chipped and applied as a fresh mulch on both unplanted areas and around plants on well-established beds.

Is pine bark mulch toxic to dogs? ›

Any wood-based mulch is safe for your dog. Pine, cedar, and cypress are probably the three of the most popular mulch options and they should all be dog-friendly.

Do mulch attract snakes? ›

Avoid using mulch and large rocks in your landscape, as they attract snakes and their prey and can create breeding and overwintering habitat. Instead, use smaller, tight-fitting rock such as gravel or river rock.

Do ants like pine bark mulch? ›

Ants will go for any type of organic mulch, as will mice. However, mice also are attracted to straw or fluffed mulch. Cockroaches tend to prefer bark shavings or pine straw mulch, while mosquitoes will be attracted to any kind of mulch so long as it's wet.

Does pine mulch attract roaches? ›

Pine Straw mulches will almost always attract roaches to the area. This is another ground cover that's vulnerable to roaches. Of course, pine straw mulch gives roaches what they can get from bark mulch. It provides shelter and traps moisture underneath.

Does pine bark absorb water? ›

The bark will absorb water, and only after the bark has moistened through to the phloem layer underneath will water be available to living cells for uptake. Most of the water absorbed by the bark will be returned to the air by evaporation and not available to the plant.

Is pine bark good for the soil? ›

The mulch can retain soil moisture that lets plants survive during heat waves. Pine bark also prevents potential soil-related diseases from spreading throughout your garden. Pine bark mulch deters the growth of weeds, protects against soil erosion, and adds beneficial nutrients to the soil.

Does pine bark rot? ›

When woody mulches like pine bark decay, they remove nitrogen, which plants need in order to grow. So it's possible that decomposing pine bark mulch could rob landscape plants of nitrogen and inhibit their growth.

Does pine bark mulch improve soil? ›

Pine bark is long lasting, and when it does break down it enriches the soil with organic material. Water pooling can cause bark nuggets to float and spread, and moving water can cause it to wash away, requiring it be raked back or replaced entirely.

Does pine bark mulch attract bugs? ›

While organic mulches naturally decompose and are beneficial, they also attract insects looking for warmth, shelter, and food. Insects eat the pine bark mulch along with the bacteria and fungi harbored within its moist, dark confines. Pests that aren't true insects but are linked with infestations include spiders.

What are the negatives of pine? ›

Properties of Pine
Advantages of PineDisadvantages of Pine
Light WeightSusceptible to Scratches and Dents
Resists Shrinking & SwelllingCan be easily damaged
Good Elasticity
Attractive Grain Options
2 more rows
1 Jul 2015

What are the disadvantages of using pine? ›

On the pro side, pine has a lower price tag, it's easy to stain or paint, and it is strong enough to make furniture that's durable and functional. On the con side, it can get marked and dinged, it has a knotty look, and stain or paint color needs to be chosen with pine wood traits in mind for the best presentation.

What are the disadvantages of mulching? ›

Although using mulch has many benefits, it cal also be detrimental to the garden in mainly two ways: Overmulching can bury and suffocate plants. Mulch provides a convenient hiding place for pests. Bake your plants with excess heat if don incorrectly.

How long does it take for pine bark mulch to decompose? ›

Different types of mulch include woodchips and bark mulch, and these two are the most frequently used. Woodchips take a while to decompose, about four to seven years. Bark mulch is more durable and has a life duration of seven to ten years.

What mulch keeps roaches away? ›

The best mulch for roach prevention is an inorganic mulch, such as rubber or gravel. However, these mulches do not break down and add organic matter to the soil. If you must use a wood mulch for its soil-enriching benefits, leave at least 12 inches between the edge of the mulch layer and your home's foundation.

Do termites like pine? ›

Termites love conifer trees. In fact, areas that are recently cleared of pine trees are known habitats for termites. However, they don't usually set out to kill and consume conifers. Instead, termites are known to live in them, usually in a portion that's already dead.


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