I have an enormous towering pine on the edge of my property that drops a carpet of needles every fall. In the past I've raked, bagged and disposed of the crop, but this year I wondered if the needles could be used as an alternative to cedar wood mulch. And guess what? They can.
Known as pine straw, dried pine needles make a good ground cover particularly for acid-loving plants like rhodedendons, azaleas, berry shrubs and other evergreens. They are completely eco-friendly (since they decompose and add nutrients to the soil), enhance moisture retention, prohibit weed growth and—unlike their wood counterparts—are less likely to wash away during a heavy rain. One proviso: if the needles are green they may alter the PH of your soil, so be sure to use the dried, straw-like needles if you plan to use as mulch. You can find out more at mulchtypes.org