How to Remove Pine Needles from Landscaping

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You can remove your pine needles with a little bit of work.
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Do you need to remove pine needles from landscaping? Though they are attractive, certain evergreen trees shed their needles, and cleaning them up can be quite tedious. Evergreens can be broken down into two main categories: broadleaf and conifers. Broadleaf pine varieties include rhododendrons and boxwoods, while conifers like spruce and pine grow cones and have needlelike foliage. They all stay green year-round, but conifers shed their needles.


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Pine Needle Basics

When pine needles get old, they produce less energy for the tree and become shaded by younger needles. The old needles turn brown and then drop off. In a healthy tree, there is always a supply of younger needles to replace the dead ones at any given time.


Pine needles are small and thin, and conifer trees shed them in great numbers. These needles get stuck in mulch, between rocks and in the grass of your yard. Some people don't bother cleaning them up since the job seems so overwhelming.

It is much easier to remove needles that land on flat surfaces, like patios and paved driveways. Use a push broom to move away the debris and wear safety gloves to protect your fingers from the needles' sharp edges when you are handling them. Do not leave the needles in big piles near any structure, as this is a fire hazard.


Cleaning Up Garden Beds

When pine needles get into garden beds or tight spaces, it is harder to clean them up. If you don't already have one, this project could call for the purchase of a leaf blower. For the purpose of removing pine needles, a small blower should be adequate.


You can also choose to invest in a larger, more powerful one for other chores. Leaf blowers work well if you need to clean out pine needles caught between rocks, but be sure to use a setting strong enough to clear the needles without blowing the rocks away.

Using a Pressure Washer

You can use a pressure washer to get pine needles out of rocks but you have to be careful. If there are plants nearby, they could get destroyed. Only use pressure washers for large rocks and use the low setting. These washers can easily blow away smaller rocks and other things that you want to keep on the ground.


Leaf blowers and pressure washers are not useful for removing pine needles from mulch and grass, especially if the ground is damp. You may have some success with a good rake or a small garden shovel if there are clumps. Another option is to use duct tape but only for smaller areas, like between rocks. Just put the sticky part down and it will lift up the needles.


Recycling Your Pine Needles

Pine tree needles make for a decent soil conditioner and mulch for the winter, so leaving them where they land could be an option. This may not look appealing in front-yard beds and other high-visibility areas, like lawns and driveways, though. If left in 2- to 3-inch layers, they can safeguard the ground from temperature fluctuations and can even help with water retention.


You can also add the needles to your compost pile. Separate them into the "brown" category and mix them with "green" materials, like grass clippings and weeds. Always remember to wear gloves while you are working.

Another great way to recycle your pine needles while cleaning up is to bring them indoors and use them as a way to freshen up your home. For example, you can try boiling pine needles in water to help fill your home with a wonderful pine scent.