I have several pines in my back yard. Nothing seems to grow well among
them. Is there any secrets about pines and gardening? ph? What plants
do well in the pine needles? Can the pine needles be raked
occasionally, and kept to a minimum? Are there soil amendments or
chemicals that can be added? I am losing space to the pines. Also, the
pines provide a lot of shade (duh), so which plants would be pine
tolerant AND shade tolerant? Any sites you could provide that might
give me info?
You have multiple potential problems - some you know about already.
- Big trees have deep and wide roots and suck up water and nutrients at the
expense of other plants.
- Fallen leaves, including pine needles, may alter the pH towards the acid
side, this may or may not be a bad thing.
- Shade, depending on how deep the shade is this reduces the range plants
that will grow there, especially if you want flowers.
- Fallen leaves may form a mat physically inhibiting other plants (this may
be good or bad depending on situation)
- Some trees, including some pines, exhibit allelopathy. That is they
conduct chemical warfare against other plants by producing substances that
inhibit growth or germination of them.
In summary, those pine trees are fighting you in many ways. Some promlems
you can deal with, it's a matter of how hard you want to fight. As a first
step I would find out what species of pine you have and research the degree
of allelopathy that they have to what you want to grow. If they are
chemical fighters your only weapon may be a chainsaw as you will not be able
to keep the needles off everything else.
SB> I have several pines in my back yard. Nothing seems to grow
SB> well among them. Is there any secrets about pines and
SB> gardening? ph? What plants do well in the pine needles? Can
SB> the pine needles be raked occasionally, and kept to a minimum?
SB> Are there soil amendments or chemicals that can be added? I am
SB> losing space to the pines. Also, the pines provide a lot of
SB> shade (duh), so which plants would be pine tolerant AND shade
SB> tolerant? Any sites you could provide that might give me info?
Pine forests are often devoid of any underbrush.
Very little will grow through pine needles.
My advice, thin out the pines, and rake the needles
Then you should be able to grow plants appropriate to
Depending on your climate and soil structure (neither of which you
mentioned), you might be able to grow azaleas and other rhododendrons
and also camellias under the pines. They require an acid soil that
drains very well, soil that is always moist but never wet. They also
prefer shade. Since they prefer a "lean" soil, the fact that the pines
are grabbing all nutrients would not be a problem.
You might also grow ferns and Japanese maples. These too do well with
shade and acid soil. They might require added nutrients.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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