How to Dispose of Pine Needles

You can get rid of pine needles in a variety of ways, including throwing them in the garbage.

However, you should consider a few things before taking these actions. Since pine needles contain sap, you should dispose of them indoors.

Don’t let them accumulate outdoors or in your shed. So, how do you dispose of pine needles?

Pine needles are a little more complicated than you think. While they are biodegradable, they don’t break down quickly or easily.

In fact, pine needles take around two years to fully decompose. Because of this, it’s best to dispose of pine needles in the garbage or compost pile.

Otherwise, you’ll end up with a bunch of pine needles in your yard.

Why is it Difficult to Dispose of Pine Needles?

Pine trees are evergreen, which means they keep their leaves all year long and don’t have their leaves fall off like deciduous trees do in the fall season.

They don’t lose all of their needles at once. Instead, they lose their leaves one at a time throughout the fall and winter seasons every year.

Pine trees lose their old and dying needles towards the trunk of the tree in spring time.

When this occurs, these older and dead needles are typically raked up and placed into the compost pile with the rest of your yard waste in the springtime months for decomposition purposes.

When compared to other kinds of tree debris like leaves and branches that tend to decay much quicker than other types of debris, it can take years for the decomposition of pine trees to occur naturally in nature.

Pine needles have a form of ic acid in their sap that makes them difficult to break down naturally through natural decomposition processes that occur in nature when decomposing tree debris in yards.

They are often less desirable than other kinds of tree debris to be composted since they tend to create a lot of heat when being decomposed in a compost pile.

How to Dispose of Pine Needles

Composting at Home

Pine needle composting has become more popular over time as more people realize how good it is for their lawns and gardens to compost at home.

This procedure requires just a bit of planning and preparation on your part to get started.

However, you should not add whole pine tree branches to the compost pile as they are more difficult to break down than the smaller branches and twigs found in nature.

They sometimes take longer to decompose than other kinds of branch and twig materials as well, since they usually contain more resinous components that are more difficult to break down into usable mulches, soil conditioners, and other organic matter in the garden.

Pine needles may be added to the compost pile along with a number of other green plant materials like grass clippings, other vegetable matter, and other organic yard waste that is biodegradable in nature.

Within three months, the pine needle material should break down nicely within the compost pile while turning brown in color and creating beneficial nitrogen-rich mulch and soil in your garden area.

Disposal of Green Waste

Aside from composting pine needles, the other main method of disposal is to just leave them on the lawn to decompose naturally over time.

Most places that get rid of green waste aren’t set up to handle this kind or size of material, since it’s usually too small to be collected properly with tools designed for larger branches and other tree debris from bigger trees.

They collect and properly dispose of only the larger types of yard waste that come from regular lawn maintenance, such as leaves, branches, and other large pieces of organic material.

Green trash includes any biodegradable type of yard waste that comes from general lawn care, such as leaves, grass clippings, and other green plant materials.

Consult this map if you don’t know where to look for this kind of disposal service in your area.

Free disposal chips and bags are often provided by green waste facilities to regular homeowners for the collection of yard waste from their homes.

This is normally provided free once per year in April or May during special collections or as part of other events or special programs that may be held at the disposal facility from time to time.


Removing the pine needles first will simplify the process of composting because once the needle material is removed from the lawn, the remaining amount of debris is easier to process in a compost pile.

A mulching machine can also be used to process large amounts of pine needles that you don’t like the look of left lying on the grass on your lawn.

But this way of getting rid of needles isn’t the best for the environment because some of the needles may fall off the mulching and land back on the lawn if the machine isn’t set up right or if too much force is used.

Let the pine needles you collected dry out completely before you use them in your garden as mulch or to improve the soil.

Once the pine needles have dried, they can be used in potting soil mixes or as top dressing for other garden areas in your yard.

However, you should not use large amounts of dried pine needles that have been removed from the lawn as a mulch or top dressing on your garden beds because they can smother other plants if left there for too long a period of time.

They are still sharp and can easily puncture the skin if they get into direct contact with a person’s skin while they are walking around the garden area.

Are Pine Needles a Fire Hazard?

In the American Southwest, where it is dry and there is a lot of fire danger, pine trees are a serious fire hazard to the area and the people who live there.

Drifts of pine needles are a major cause of forest fires in these areas and can cause extensive property damage when a fire breaks out.

If you live in an area prone to wildfires, you should avoid planting pine trees on your property or near your home if you want to protect your property from the danger of forest fires.

Clear away those needles so they don’t become a fire hazard that could cause your property to burn down in a wildfire.

Will Pine Needles Kill Grass?

If pine needles are left on top of grass for a long time, they will suffocate the grass roots under the layer of leaves.

If you leave pine needles on the lawn for too long, they take away nutrients and water from the soil. This makes your lawn more likely to have problems with weeds.

Pine needle acidity will leak into the soil over time and affect the health of your lawn by killing off other types of grass that grow there if they are not removed periodically.

Can You Mow Over Pine Needles?

Even if you use a specialist lawn mower that can process large quantities of heavy material such as pinecones, it is best not to mow over a layer of pine needles because the sharp ends of the leaves can puncture the blades of your mower and cause it to malfunction.

Because pine needles are much denser than deciduous leaves, the mower’s suction can cause the leaves to get stuck in the blades of the machine.

You’ll have far greater experience with leaf blowing than a lawn mower when dealing with piles of fallen leaves and pine needles that are scattered all over the lawn.

The Best Pine Needle Collection Methods

Shovel and Push-Broom

The push-broom and shovel approach requires the gardener to remove as many pine needles as possible by hand and then pile them up in a wheelbarrow for removal from the garden area.

This method requires a significant amount of effort, but it is ideal for clearing large areas of lawn or garden of dead leaves and pine needles.

Begin by picking a sunny day in early spring when the leaves are dry and less dense so that you can remove the majority of the leaves from the lawn without getting pricked by them.

Push the needles from the beginning to the end of the area to be cleared of debris and then collect them in a wheelbarrow or bag as you work your way through the area.

Take care not to be too rough with the lawn while removing the dead leaves and twigs; the grass needs to be kept in good condition as much as possible so that it can produce new shoots later on in the season.

Repeat this method on your whole lawn if necessary, and then rake up the remaining debris into a pile that is large enough to compost it or use as mulch around trees, shrubs, and other plant features in your garden.

Tarp and Leaf Blower

Before you begin raking the leaves, lay out the tarp on the lawn to keep the leaves from blowing away in the wind.

You’ll want to weigh down the corners with bricks or stones before placing the tarp over the lawn so that the leaf matter doesn’t blow away when you begin collecting it.

If you don’t have enough bricks or stones to weigh down the corners of the tarp, then place more items on the grass inside the perimeters of the tarp so that you get maximum weight inside the cloth.

Once the tarp is in place, use the leaf blower to remove the leaves and small twigs that are stuck between the grass and the ground surface; the leaves will collect at the bottom of the tarpaulin for easy collection later.

Begin as far away from the tarp’s edge as possible so that the debris pile grows larger as you move closer to the center; this will make it easier to collect all of the debris later.

When the needles begin to pile together, clear a path down the middle of the tarpaulin with a rake so that you can reach the edges easily and collect all of the dead foliage from the grass.

What to Do with Fallen Pine Needles?

Fallen pine needles in your yard may look pretty, but they also pose a threat to the overall health of your grass plants if they are not removed regularly.

Clear your yard of pine needles as often as possible by using a blower, rake, or broom to sweep them up.

Mowers and regular brooms aren’t good ways to get rid of a lot of fallen pine needles because they leave clumps of stuff on the lawn that quickly turn into an unsightly mess.

Using a lawn sweeper, a leaf blower/vacuum, or a specialized needle-removing tool will get rid of these clumps and leave you with a yard that is clean and healthy-looking.

Also Read: How to Dispose of an Epipen?

Final Words

Your pine needles are among your most common garden problems, but if you take care of them, your garden will be free of excess pine needles that are harmful to your grass plants.

Because of their small, sharp forms, they are easily able to pierce through thick layers of turf and cause damage to the plants underneath.

If you need to get rid of lots of pine needles quickly, consider renting a commercial power vacuum from your local gardening center; these machines have powerful motors that will suck up the leaves in a matter of seconds.

You may compost them or add them to your mulch heap to make the soil richer and more attractive for growing plants and trees.