Mulch Like an Expert

Mulch like an expertIt seems easy enough to add mulch to your landscape, but the experts always seem to make everything look flawless. Believe it or not, you can install mulch just like the professionals do. Follow these tips and your landscape can have that clean, high-impact appearance, without the cost of hiring an expert.

Prepare Your Landscape

  1. Prune any bushes and trees first.
  2. Remove any sticks, dead leaves, cuttings, or old mulch from your garden beds.
  3. Remove any existing weeds and treat trouble spots with a weed killer like round-up.
  4. Preform “edging” along beds and paved areas.

Installing Your New Mulch

  • Load a wheelbarrow with your mulch to make it easier to carry more each trip.
  • Dump the mulch in small mounds around your work area.
  • Spread the mulch out evenly with a rake. Usually 2-4 inches is the ideal depth.
  • Always leave a space a couple inches from the base of bushes, trees, and plant stems.
  • After installation make sure to rake or use a leaf blower to keep any dirt or mulch in the bed.
  • Smooth-over the top of the mulch, making sure the edges are even.

Keep in mind there are several ways to perform the edging task. For small areas you can use a square shovel to form 3-4 inch wide edges which are roughly a couple inches deep. A mini-tiller can be used for larger beds, the dirt can be blown back into the bed with a leaf blower when finished. Alternatively you can rent a bed edger, this is especially useful for very large projects.

Expert Tip

Along sidewalks, curbs, and driveways you should dig a 3-4 inch wide edge that is roughly 2 inches deep. When you add mulch to these areas it will rest against the side of the pavement rather than overflowing on the edges. You should now be able to enjoy your professional looking landscape.

 

Wholesale Pine Straw

Wholesale Pine StrawOur round and square pine straw bales are sold wholesale direct to landscapers, landscape contractors and architects, retail chains, retail nurseries, major lawn and garden centers,  developers, golf courses, airports, cities, counties, homeowners and all other customers who want to purchase a minimum of one full truckload of pine straw.

With over 18,000 acres of timberland producing over 3.5 million bales of pine straw in North Florida and Southern Georgia, we have the ability to ship pine straw most anywhere in the United States. Our pine straw is delivered in well-maintained and enclosed dry storage trailers to the project site or landscape yard of your choice (drop trailers are available upon request). Bulk pine straw deliveries are made to most states in the contiguous United States (see the list here). Wholesale pine straw deliveries to southeastern states are made the next day on orders placed before 5 pm and is based on product availability.

Pine straw is harvested, sold and transported by Custom Pine Straw. Our pine straw is hand raked and cleaned, carefully baled and tied to ensure that each bale has maximum weight, is ready to spread and has minimum sticks, pine cones and debris.

Pine straw is the preferred choice of landscapers and developers for all of their quality landscaping projects. Pine straw aids in protecting plants during sudden climate changes and throughout every season. For summer landscape jobs, professional landscapers choose pine straw as the beautiful and natural mulch to protect tree and plant roots from the direct heat of the sun and to reduce water usage and irrigation because it creates a natural moisture barrier. City and county highway landscape and road development crews choose pine straw as a groundcover to use on new plants and trees as well and on slopes to protect against erosion.

Currently we are producing both round pine straw bales and square pine straw bales. Purchase wholesale pine straw to save money on your next big landscaping project. Get a quote today.

Purpose of Pine Needles

Have you ever wondered how many pine tree species are in the world? Ever wonder why a pine tree has needles not leaves? What about the purpose they serve?

In the world there are over 100 pine tree species most notable in the United States are Slash, Loblolly and Longleaf pine. The pine needles from each species vary in shape and size while their purpose remains the same. Pine trees are coniferous evergreen which means they stay green year round and do not lose their needles.

General Characteristics:

Pine needles are long and slender. The length and color depends on three key elements: the pine species, which season we are in and the amount of water available to the tree. Generally pine needles range from short (5” or less) to very long (up to 15”) and on any pine tree the length of needles may vary by several inches.

Pine needle colors may be brown, a whitish-green or a deep dark green.

Main Purpose:

Pine needles have thicker outer coating known as “skin” when compared to leaves as well a thick layer of wax for added protection. With less surface area, thicker skin and a waxy coating pine needles do not let as much water evaporate as leaves. In dry climates and cold winter months pine trees survive because of its water conservation.

Other Purposes:

After pine needles fall to the ground they serve even more purposes than just helping the tree survive. Freshly fallen pine needles will naturally interlock and creates a natural mat (or barrier) that prohibits weed growth, prevents soil erosion, disperses nutrients back into the soil and more.

Neat Facts about Pine Needles:

  • Each pine tree grows thousands of needles in its life cycle.
  • Pine needles can stay on a tree for up to 5 years. Most fall off when they reach maturity.
  • Are excellent compost material.
  • Pine needles are used for medicinal purposes.
  • Needles are used to make pine needle tea and even baskets.
  • Sold as pine straw, natural mulch.

It’s a Fine Time for Pine

Its a Fine Time for PineThis month I wanted to write about pine trees and needles. You might be thinking “what on earth is he going to say about boring old pine trees?” Besides creating clean oxygen, timber and mulch pine trees produce much, much more resources that we often neglect to think about. After reading my blog post you may never look at a pine tree stand (acreage with planted pine trees) the same way again…

Have you ever chewed a needle from a young pine tree? It tastes like lemon. Where I live people believe pine needles relieve their heartburn and some even say it satisfies thirst and hunger. I’ve heard pine needles can also prevent colds, flu and cure dry cough when chewed thoroughly and by swallowing the juice. I happen to love the scent of pine cleaners used to clean my home.

Those are just a few things about pine needle uses besides just using the dropped needles as pine straw to make my garden look great.  I did some further research to find the truth, and more uses of pine needles – below are some links to what I found.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for interest and information only. While most pine tree needles are safe for consumption we recommend that you conduct your own research and take caution before consumption of anything new. Additionally; there are three known pine trees and their needles to always avoid: Yew, Norfolk Island and Ponderosa pines are all poisonous to people. I also found a warning for women who are pregnant or could become pregnant are not advised to drink pine needle tea.

  • Green pine needles contain 5 times the amount of Vitamin C found in a lemon. – iSurvivalSkills.blogspot.com
  • Pine needles are a traditional medicine that was used in the treatment of about 80% of human diseases. LocalHarvest.org
  • Scandinavians used pine branches in saunas and many cultures stuffed mattresses with pine needles to repel lice, fleas and other insects. AwakeningBlog.com
  • According to AwakeningBlog.com pine needles exhibit strong antioxidant, antimutagenic and antiproliferative effects on cancer cells and antitumor effects in vivo and point to their potential usefulness in cancer prevention.
  • Some Indian tribes would peel young pine shoots and eat them as a vegetable while colonists would make a candy from the shoots. – iSurvivalSkills.blogspot.com
  • Pine needle tea and cambium (inner bark layer) helped cure scurvy and helped the early settlers survive the first winter in America.
  • Pine needle tea is high in both Vitamin A & C.  – DavesGarden.com and iSurvivalSkills.blogspot.com
  • Pine may help lethargy and exhaustion. – Therapeuticalteas.blogspot.com
  • Also according to Therapeuticalteas.blogspot.com pine needle tea is used for coughs and acute bronchitis. It is also a diuretic.
  • Pine needles are an anti-inflammatory; soaking in a pine needle bath may help gout, rheumatism, sprains and strains. Therapeuticalteas.blogspot.com and LocalHarvest.org
  • White pine needles are relief for: heart disease, heart ailments, varicose veins, muscle fatigue , sclerosis, kidney ailments, eye related ailments that concern connective muscles in the eye, gangrene and promotes strengthening of nerves in eye according to LocalHarvest.org

Those are just a few of my findings. This topic was so fun and interesting I may create a Part II.

 

Round Pine Straw Bales

Round Pine Straw BalesAfter this year’s freezing cold and crazy weather winter I am thinking of a nice fishing trip off the Grand Turks or some other warm exotic and tropical land.  Followed soon after by getting our yard and garden beds ready for Spring which officially begins March 20, 2014 and not soon enough for me. If you have already thought of how you will mulch for the spring but haven’t started yet you’re in luck! There’s something new and easy for garden beds and ground cover this year.

Custom Pine Straw is introducing round pine straw bales to their retailers this year that are available for purchase for the spring 2014 gardening season. Professional landscapers have tested round bales of pine straw and are asking for it with great demand for their customer’s everyday landscaping projects. Landscapers and groundskeepers are choosing round pine straw bales over square pine straw bales and other organic mulches.

“Round bales of straw can just be rolled out and fluffed right where you want it and in the thickness you want also. Whereas other mulches I have to place large amounts in different areas and spread it, or take more time to fluff and spread it. The round pine straw bales dramatically reduced the amount of time it takes to mulch the garden beds and around trees.” – Larry Thompson

Landscapers can save between 30 – 40% of their current labor costs by using round pine straw bales because it is much easier and faster to spread. Homeowners will be choosing round pine bales of straw not only because the ease of use but cost savings as well. One round bale of pine straw will cover 135 to 150 square feet. Custom Pine Straw round bales have 2.5 times the capacity compared to our square pine straw bales.

Round pine straw bales are more consistent in size and weight weighing approximately 36 to 38 pounds and have zero loss of product because it “rolls out” exactly where you want it without breaking apart and dropping needles. Round pine straw bales is also much cleaner pine straw having less leaves, twigs and debris than square bales.

Get your FREE quote today or call us (386) 395-6933!

Spring Mulching 101

Spring is just around the corner and you’re probably beginning to think about what type of flowers you will be planting. Spring is a time where people like gardening because it’s a relaxing hobby and they like their yard to look aesthetically pleasing. Generally a flower garden is quite easy to care for. The most important aspect of gardening is keeping your flower beds mulched.

Normally the best time to mulch is right after winter while the soil is still moist. Mulching during the spring is still better than not mulching at all.

Choosing a Mulch

There are all sorts of mulches on the market today. Still, the best mulch is organic mulch as it provides more benefits to the soil as it slowly decomposes. Landscape professionals nationwide prefer to use pine straw. Pine straw is sold in cubic feet by the bale. Use our bale calculator to find out how much you need.

Before Applying a Mulch

Before you spread your mulch it is best to pull all of the weeds. You can even begin planting new plant seeds and bulbs.

Spreading the Mulch

Spreading mulch is very simple just spread it evenly and 3 inches deep. It is recommended to be 3 inches deep to stop weeds from getting any light to grow. The best way to apply pine straw mulch is by hand. Pine straw retains moisture so don’t cover the base of the plant and instead extend the straw to the drip line of the plant (at least 2 – 3 inches away from the base of plants, trees and shrubs). See more tips.

Mulch Maintenance

Since pine straw is organic and it will slowly decompose over time, periodically check and make sure to add new straw in areas where the needles have decomposed. Also rake the mulch from time to time to make sure that it hasn’t compacted down to much so that rain and water can still get to the soil.

Outdoor Landscaping with Pine Straw

Outdoor landscaping with pine strawPine straw can be used virtually anywhere in your landscape whether it’s at your residential home or office. Landscapers and garden professionals are choosing pine straw as their preferred choice of landscaping mulch due to its resilience, versatility and benefits to plants in the landscape.

Residential Uses for Pine Straw:

Homeowners throughout the United States use pinestraw to line their driveway and pathways. This technique will keep dust down and has a beautiful appeal while driving to your home.

Homeowners use pine straw in their garden and flower beds for several reasons. It provides attractive accenting while providing valuable nutrients back into your landscape. Also use pine straw around the base of your trees. Using pine straw in your garden beds prevents erosion and soil compaction, deters weeds and much more.

Pine straw is the best mulch for vegetable and fruit gardens. For example, pine straw allows the fruit of strawberry plants to rest above the soil and allows plenty of air and water to reach the soil. The pine straw doesn’t compact when it’s left alone unlike most other mulches. Strawberry runners are able to create new sister plants because they can make their way through the needles to create new roots.

Commercial Uses for Pine Straw:

Highway landscapers use pinestraw to cover newly laid grass, shrubs and trees for several reasons. When they water newly planted shrubs and grass, the pine straw protects against soil compaction and prevents erosion. You will often see pine straw lining the sides of highways for the same reasons.

Golf course greens keepers use pine straw throughout their golf courses due to its longevity. They will also use pine straw as pathways and on steep banks.

Pine straw is used in flower beds near office buildings to protect plants from soil-borne diseases by keeping mud splatters off that are caused by rain and watering.

In parking lots pine straw is used at the base of trees and shrubs to insulate the soil and make the soil a steady temperature. Pinestraw is also used in parking lots because it allows moisture to reach plants roots while deterring weeds which means a more attractive parking lot and landscape while requiring less maintenance.

Get a Wholesale Priced Pine Straw Quote Now!

Florida Winter Landscaping Tips

Florida Winter Landscaping TipsDid you know Florida gets freezing temperatures? You might be thinking Florida never gets cold however, Florida has moderate winter temperatures and freezes can occur from Florida City Florida to the panhandle and everywhere in between. Vegetable farmers in Homestead Florida can tell you all about long nights irrigating fields to protect crops from freezing in overnight temperatures. Protecting your winter garden plants in Florida is equally necessary because all it takes is one night of temperatures in the low 30’s to 40’s for your most loved plants and shrubs to receive damage.

Below we list some tips on protecting your plants from some of Florida’s cold weather.

Proper Care for Winter Plant Protection

Mulch with pine straw around the base of plants, shrubs and trees to protect shallow root systems. Pine straw will insulate the plant absorbing the sun’s radiation using it at night to keep your plants, flowers and trees warm, just like a blanket uses our body heat to keep us warm at night.

Tip: Mulch around plants, trees and shrubs before a frost and after all of the leaves of trees nearby have fallen, your pine straw will look better longer as leaf free mulch!

Plants, trees and shrubs properly fertilized in the fall will recover quicker from frost damage. Dont wait until late fall to fertilize or prune otherwise the cold weather can cause damage to new growth.

Continue to water newly planted plants, trees and shrubs since it doesn’t rain often in Florida during the winter. Most of the above ground plant is dormant however the roots can continue to grow if adequate moisture is present.

Covering Plants and Shrubs

Cover tender plants by using cloth, such as old sheets or quilts, burlap or special covering from local nurseries that is made for plants and always avoid using plastic. Plastic will cause condensation to form on the leaves from freezing temperatures which results in the leaves burning in the sunlight. Covers that go all the way to the ground work best because it can lessen the damage by reducing heat loss.

 

Decorative Landscaping for Halloween Using Pine Straw

Decorative Landscaping  for Halloween Using Pine StrawDoes your family all-out decorate your yard for Halloween? Want a great tip for your decorations that you can re-purpose and reuse after Halloween? If you answered yes, you’ve came to the right place for tips on decorative landscaping for Halloween using pine straw! Even if you don’t go all-out for Halloween and would like to just have one or two yard or porch centerpieces we can give you advice with that too!

Outdoor Halloween decorations certainly add to the Halloween atmosphere no matter where you are located in the United States. Adults and kids of all ages enjoy decorating for Halloween and like seeing all of the decorated yards especially while Trick-or-Treating.

Just the thought of using bales of pine straw in your holiday landscape décor’ will make your house the best dressed Halloween house on the block.  What else is more fall landscaping than pine straw? Spread it across the landscape for an auburn colored bed for other decorations or stack whole pine straw bales to act as a pedestal for the rest of your Halloween decorations such as your pumpkins, gourds, scarecrows and other decorations.

Halloween decorating ideas to place on pine straw bales:

  • Mums (flower pot) due to their Halloween and fall colors
  • Carved or un-carved pumpkins; place lights inside of the carved pumpkin as a safe alternative to using a candle.
  • Basket of dried cornstalks
  • Dead flowers with a pile of dirt because they can act as a graveyard for Halloween decorations
  • Party stores and Halloween stores carry other items to intensify the “scariness” of your yard.
  • Place “spider webs” (purchased from most retailers in the Halloween section) on the straw bales, pumpkins, flower pots, tree limbs, etc.

Other decorative ideas for Halloween using pine straw are as follows:

  • Pine straw/needles make a great scarecrow. After the scare crow is made, place it in front, behind or to the side of the pine straw bales. You can even make the scarecrow sitting or lying down on the straw bales.
  • Make ghosts to hang from trees and limbs. Stuff an 8” ball of pine straw in the top of a white kitchen trash bag and tie it off with string, a zip tie, bread tie or something similar. Let the kids draw a face on the “ball” part for the ghosts head. After Halloween is over cut the tie off and re-use the trash bags. The pine straw can be used for mulching.

After Halloween

After Halloween, cut the ties on the pine straw bales that were used as pedestals and apply it as landscaping mulch, approximately 3” thick (see Pine Straw Tips & Uses). This will provide your landscape with the blanket it needs to protect your plants, trees and shrubs from the cold winter months ahead. See our October 16th blog post on “Steps to Prepare Your Fall Landscape for Winter” for other fall landscaping tips.

 

Steps to Prepare Your Fall Landscape for Winter

Preparing Your Lawn For WinterMany people believe preparing their gardens and landscape for winter is pretty easy however that is not the case if you want those bright, eye-catching flowers to be at their healthiest when they first appear next spring. Now, during the fall (also read our blog “2013 Fall Mulching with Pine Straw”) is the best time to prepare your landscape for the cold winter months ahead.

 

Here’s a few tips to prepare your garden and landscape for winter:

1. Give back the nutrients to the lawn that it needs through fertilizing.

“Right now, it’s key to work on your lawn,” says Jim Welshans, regional turfgrass educator at Penn State University. Many people believe spring is the most critical time to fertilize their lawn when in actuality it is fall for many parts of the country. Welshans explains: “In Pennsylvania we grow cool-season grasses and during the summer they’re not very active.” Come autumn, however, they revive.

Cool weather grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and others should be fertilized twice during the fall. The first application should have been in mid to late September (when fall began) using a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. The second application should use a fertilizer high in phosphorus, roughly in late November around Thanksgiving before the ground is frozen. This second application will prepare your lawn and plants for next year.

Warm weather grasses such as Bermuda, Zoyia, St. Augustine, centipede and others go mostly dormant in the winter however it is still recommended to fertilize your lawn from mid-September to mid-October to restore vital nutrients needed to produce healthy roots and sustain it over the winter.

2. Reseed and plant new grass seed now so it will germinate before winter.

3. Continue watering your garden beds and landscape throughout fall into early winter.

The ground should be moist before winter however not soaked otherwise mold can develop within your garden beds and landscape. TIP: to reduce the amount of watering needed throughout all seasons of the year use natural mulch such as pine straw, which not only protects your plants, retains moisture, adds nutrients to the soil – it also breathes and does not encourage mold growth.

4. Do not prune from now until spring.

Plants, trees and grass are now preparing to go dormant for the winter so you do not want to encourage growth through pruning. Once dormant however pruning of trees is encouraged.

5. Transplant and cleaning flower beds in the Fall.

Fall is a great time to transplant trees and shrubs especially in the South because tree roots have a longer period of time to establish. Remove perennials from your garden bed during the Fall so that when heavy rainfall occurs in the beginning of spring there is not a lot of root rot.

6. Most importantly is applying ground cover such as pine straw.

Adding ground cover such as pine straw to your plants and garden beds allows them to be protected against erosion from rain and snow, keeps the weeds down and most importantly acts as a blanket and keeps your plants warm during winter. Mulching Tip: pull mulch away from tree trunks by at least one inch to deter rodents from making the ground cover their home during winter.

Move tender plants that are in hanging baskets indoors or where temperatures will stay above freezing.

7. Continue mowing until late Fall when your lawn stops growing.

It’s Prime Time for Planting:

Plants: Hydrangeas, fall flower bulbs such as Gladiolus, Daffodil bulbs and Tiger Lilly bulbs.

Fruit and Herbs: blueberries, garlic, basil, chives, oregano, parsley and thyme.