Product Alert: Synthetic Pine Straw

I recently ran into synthetic pine straw for the first time and wanted to make you aware of this product.

Property managers and possibly homeowners may be quick to like the thought of not having to replenish their straw for several years at a time!

They may not consider the impact this choice will have on their plants and on their community.

The synthetic straw comes out of the Birmingham area, distributed by Luckie’s Pine Straw and Mulch

This is a product that is produced on carpet machines, looks like pine straw and DOES NOT DECOMPOSE (at least not for 7 years, which is the guarantee period). A glue spray can be applied to keep pine straw mounds/areas in place.

Please keep your eyes open and inform users that it is not a good idea to use this product for the following reasons (plus all the ones you can think of):

  • With every rain event portions of the plastic strings are swept into our stormwater drains and pollute our creeks, lakes and rivers
  • Trees and shrubs depend on decomposition of natural pine straw mulch for improvement of the soil structure. This is especially important in tight, commercial locations and in other heavily graded areas where all top soil was removed and little brought back in prior to planting. Using non-degradable materials removes the already limited possibility to improve pore space and movement of oxygen and water, thus reducing the longevity of our urban trees even more.
  • Apart from its benefits to the soil, natural pine straw is a natural by-product of our forests. Using it as mulch is the best imaginable way of recycling. Producing a non-natural product to replace natural mulch is a waste of energy and resources that ends up in our landfills after several years.

Birgit Kibelka, ASLA, ISA
Kibelka Landscape Architecture, LLC

Below are examples of synthetic pine straw from Google Images: