Can You Compost Pine Needles?

Our experienced writers spend hours deep researching, considering both scientific and experimental info to bring the insights you can trust.  

In Brief: Can You Compost Pine Needles?

Yes, Pine needles and pine cones can both be composted, although it takes a long time for them to decompose. In controlled conditions, the claim that they are acidic and lower the pH of your soils has been studied and refuted. Furthermore, they are regarded as a suitable carbon source (“brown”) for composting. Pine needles form excellent compost, which is beneficial to the garden and plants.

This detailed guide will take you through simple steps and precautions to take care of composting pine needles.

Let’s get started!!

Can You Compost Pine Needles?

Pine needles are excellent for composting since they are a rich source of carbon. Pine’s acidic nature makes it an excellent complement to acid-loving plants’ soil.

Raspberry, rhododendrons, gardenias, and strawberries are examples of plants that thrive in acidic soil.

If you have pine cones or needles in your garden, you can add them to your compost pile the next time you make one. Fresh and dry pine needles should account for no more than 10% of the pile.

Consider dry pine needles or pine cones part of the ‘brown’ or carbon part of the materials when you start composting. If you’re composting green pine needles straight from the tree, include them in the ‘green’ or nitrogen content of the pile.

They take a long time to decompose and should be mixed with a wide variety of other composting materials for remarkable results. Pine needles have a waxy layer that makes bacteria and fungi work harder to break them down.

Pine needle composting has the virtue of not compacting, allowing air to flow freely through the pile.

As a result, the compost pile becomes hotter and breaks down more quickly.

How To Compost Pine Needles With Ease?

Here is how you can do it –

Get a compost bin – The proper bin should be large enough to hold all of your goods while also allowing air to circulate. If you want your compost to be ready quickly, you must consider this.

The compost container must be big enough to hold all of the things you throw in there. It doesn’t have to be cramped, nor does it have to be large.

Shredding the pines – Gather some fresh pine needles as much as you can and shred them into small pieces. This can be accomplished by repeatedly mowing over the pile of pine needles with your lawnmower.

Composting requires a lot of shredding. All materials you add to your compost pile must be broken down before they can be used. If you want the compost to be ready quickly, you’ll need to do this.

Sprinkling water – To begin, start by adding grass clippings or vegetable peels to the bottom of your compost container. The clippings and plant trash should fill the container up to 8 inches.

The clippings will then be sprayed with water. You must exercise caution to avoid soaking them in water.

Adding chopped pine needles to the bowl – The freshly chopped pine needles can then be added to the bowl. Pine needles shouldn’t make up more than 10% of your compost bin’s contents.

To the 8 inches of grass clippings currently in the bin, add 3 inches of pine needles.

Adding the manure – After the pine needles have been moistened, add some horse dung to the mixture. Manure from chickens or cows can be used.

You can water the pile again after adding the manure, just like you did when you added the grass clippings and pine needles.

Exposure to Sunlight – After you’ve filled your compost bin with the correct materials, place it in a part of your garden that gets plenty of sunlight. This allows the materials to swiftly heat up and disintegrate.

It would be best if you also turned pile on a regular basis to allow the materials to get air and heat. If you follow proper composting procedures, your compost pile should be ready to use in a month or two.

How Long Does It Take For Pine Needles to Compost?

Pine needles can take an extremely long time to disintegrate. Evergreens, such as pine trees, lose their needle-shaped leaves on a year-round basis. The resinous needles have a waxy coating that protects them from the cold during the winter.

Unfortunately, the waxy coating causes the needles to break down slowly and deterioration takes place over time. As a result, most gardeners prefer to use their pine needles as mulch first, in order to extend their useful life.

You’ll need enough moisture, a good structure for oxygenation, and a good balance of green and brown feedstocks to generate excellent compost.

How to Compost Pine Needles Fast?

Here are some tips to speed up the process of composting of pine needles –

Soaking in Water

You may compost ground needles more easily by soaking them in water for 24 hours. The surface area of the pine needles can be reduced by chopping them up using a wood chipper or equivalent instrument into smaller bits.

Hot composting

Due to the difficulty of composting pine needles, “hot” composting procedures are recommended. It entails incorporating nitrogen-rich ingredients such as blood meal, chicken manure, manure, and coffee grounds into the mix.

Using Mulched Pines Needles

You can use pine needles that have been mulched for a couple of seasons for faster effects. These pine needles have been exposed to the weather for almost a year and are already deteriorating.

Advantages Of Composting Pine Needles

A few reasons you should consider composting Pine Needles –

Pine Needles don’t compact – Pine needles have the advantage of not compacting when composted. This allows air to move through the pile, resulting in a hotter compost pile that breaks down more quickly.

Pine needles decompose more slowly in a compost pile than other organic materials, even when the pile is hot, therefore keep them to 10% of the overall volume.

Good Source of Nitrogen – Pine needles are rich in carbon which is a nutrient essential to composting. Pine needles are a good supply of carbon, or “brown element,” for composting.

Despite the fact that pine needles are acidic, they have little effect on the pH of the soil.

Limitations of Composting Pine Needles

A few possible issues when you compost pine needles –

Highly Acidic – The fact that green pine needles have a pH of around 3.5 causes composting pine needles to make your soil acidic. For plant growth, this range is relatively acidic.

The pH level of pine needles quickly goes toward a neutral 6 to 7 range as soon as they start to turn brown and decay unless you mix a lot of green pine needles directly into your soil (which is a bad idea).

Slow Breakdown Rate – Because pine needles have a waxy, smooth coating, this is the case. Fungi and bacteria in the compost have a hard time breaking down the pine needles because of this.

Pine needles decompose more slowly in a compost pile than other organic waste, even when the pile is hot, so keep them to around 10% of the overall volume.

Using Pine Needles as Mulch

Pine needles can also be used as mulch in the garden. Mulch retains moisture in the soil, suppresses weeds, keeps paths clear of muck, and regulates the temperature of the soil.

In addition, as the pine needle mulch decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil in the same way that compost does.

One of the benefits of pine needle mulch is that it tends to stay put rather than being washed away by rain or watering. Pine needle mulch is also long-lasting, so you won’t have to refill it as frequently.

When using pine needles as mulch on garden walkways, you can lay down a layer up to 3 inches thick. Brown, dried-out pine needles are the finest choice for mulching since they compact easily and provide a firm walking path.

If your pine needles come from a garden pine tree, another option is to leave them under the tree. They create a natural mulch that feeds the pine tree and keeps weeds at bay where they fall.


Do pine needles add nitrogen to soil?

Pine needles are a poor nitrogen source. Pine needles are a good supply of carbon, or “brown element,” for composting. Despite the fact that pine needles are acidic, they have little effect on the pH of the soil.

Can you compost fresh pine needles?

It’s preferable to compost your pine needles when they’ve lost their acidity. Pine needles that have been in the ground for a long time decompose significantly more quickly than fresh needles. If you have a pile of fresh pine needles, let them decompose for a few weeks before adding them to your compost pile, then shred them thoroughly.

Can you put pine cones in compost?

Yes, pine cones can be composted, but they should be broken down into smaller pieces with a wood chipper or shredder. This will allow them to decompose considerably more quickly into organic material that may be eaten by worms and bacteria.

Final Words

We hope this guide helped you know everything about composting pine needles of different kinds and the best conditions for better decomposition.

If you have any queries regarding composting pine needles, please write them down in the comments. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any other tips to add to our guide to make it even more informative!

Do share this with your friends and family to help them out too!