Pine needles smell good. They are good for more than just decoration. When the needles fall off, they can be used for other things like making baskets or mats. They’re ideal for a variety of purposes since they have their own unique scent, qualities, and yes, nutritional value (of some kinds).
There are many uses for dried-out pine needles beyond simple decoration around the holidays. Whether they go into compost piles, get mulched over garden beds, or get turned into tasty teas – there is no shortage of creative ways to make practical use of these lovely plants.
People have used fallen pine needles as a way to make compost, food, and all-natural cleaners. If you want to learn more about what to do with fallen pine needles – keep reading.
What to do with pine needles in the garden?
Add to Compost Pile: One of the most popular uses for pine needles is compost. As long as you have a spot to put them, pine needles make great additions to any compost pile. They’re high in nitrogen and work well with other green materials like kitchen scraps and grass clippings. Using your rake, collect the needles and add them to the compost heap.
Pine needles are acidic and high in nitrogen, so they make an excellent addition to compost piles.
Food/Tea: Some people eat pine needles fresh, either straight off the tree or cooked into dishes like soup or tea. They have a slightly resinous flavor and are full of vitamins and minerals.
Fertilizer (Liquid): Needles can be used as all-natural fertilizers when dissolved in water with fish emulsion for added nutrients. This fertilizer is perfect for indoor plants though care should be taken not to get it on your skin because it’s very strong!
Plant Protection: Tuck some under plant leaves every now and again to provide protection from pests. The needles release a resin that pests don’t like and can help deter them.
Mulch: Pine needles can also be used as mulch. Like compost, they help keep the soil moist and protect against weeds. And if you have a garden, using pine needle mulch will also add some valuable nutrients to the soil.
Pile up the needles around your plants as mulch to keep the soil moist and cool. As the needles decompose, they will also add nutrients to the soil.
Use Pine Needle as Pathways: Pine Needle pathways can add a touch of rustic charm to your garden. In fact, they’re not just for the wild anymore. Pine needle walkways are becoming increasingly popular in home gardens too. You can cut small branches from nearby pine trees and lay them out wherever you want a trail or pathway. They look especially nice in woodland gardens, but can also be used to enhance more traditional landscapes.
Weed Control: If you have a number of weeds in your garden, try smothering them. Just cover the soil with fresh pine needles and the lack of sunlight will eventually kill off what’s left.
Fill Outdoor Pillows: Do you have some outdoor furniture that could use an upgrade? Pine Needle Outdoor Pillows are great for adding a pop of color to your porch or patio. Pine needle pillows make the perfect addition, both aesthetically and practically. They’re also very easy to make; all it takes is threading needles onto a sturdy string and tying them into place.
Pest Repellent: Pines are full of terpenes, compounds that can ward off pests like mosquitos, ticks, and fleas. Rub some needles directly on your skin to keep them away or add a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser.
What to do with pine needles in the home?
All-Natural Cleaner: Needles can be used as all-natural cleaning agents. Their scent alone is often enough to disinfect and deodorize surfaces. Add them to a bucket of water and use as a mopping solution, or put them in a spray bottle for easy application.
Air Freshener: Place a few needles in a potpourri dish and enjoy the natural scent of pines. You can also put them in a sachet and keep it near your bed to help you sleep.
Insect Repellent: The terpenes in pine needles are unpleasant to many insects, so they make an excellent all-natural insect repellent. Add a few drops of essential oil to your diffuser, or rub the needles on your skin directly.
Potpourri: Tuck some pine needles in decorative jars and they’ll add a fresh scent to any room.
Aromatherapy: Essential oils from pine needles can be used in aromatherapy to help with a variety of issues. Inhale the scent directly, or add a few drops to your bathtub for a relaxing soak.
Sachets: Keep some fresh needles in small cloth bags and place them wherever you need a boost of freshness – inside your car, closets, dresser drawers, etc.
Vapor Rubs: For an all-natural vapor rub that won’t irritate your skin or clog your pores, simply mix powdered pine with oil (almond works well) until you have a thick paste. Rub it on your chest and back to help clear congestion and breathe easier.
Food Coloring: If you’re looking for an all-natural way to color Easter eggs, try using boiled pine needles instead of artificial dyes. The results will be a beautiful light green hue.
Tea: Cut open some pine branches and pour boiling water over them for a delicious pine needle tea.
Natural cleaner: Pine needles can also be used as a natural pine needle cleaner. If you’re looking for a non-toxic way to get your kitchen counters and appliances clean, look no further. All you need is a bucket of warm water, some dish soap, and about a cup of fresh pine needles. Mix everything together and start scrubbing.
The needles will help break down the dirt and grime while the soap does its job getting rid of any lingering bacteria or smells. Rinse well when you’re done and enjoy your sparkling clean surfaces.
Pine needle as medicine: And finally, some people might be wondering what medicinal purposes pine needles could serve. Well, it turns out that they can be used to treat a number of different ailments, including fungal infections and acne.
When applied topically in what is known as a “poultice” (a cloth soaked with pine needle tea), they can help relieve the pain associated with bruises. If you’re struggling to get rid of an itchy or painful rash, this treatment could do fantastic things for your skin.
How do you make pine needle tea?
To make a medicinal tincture, steep crushed needles in alcohol for up to six weeks.
To brew pine needle tea, use fresh or dried needles and either hot or cold water depending on what effect you’re hoping to achieve. For example:
Hot Water = Drinks that ease respiratory and urinary tract problems
Cold Water = Drinks to help reduce inflammation of the digestive system.
Pour boiling water over dried needles or fresh ones and steep for 15 minutes before straining out the leaves (or removing twigs if using fresh). Drink hot by itself or add honey, lemon, sugar, or other herbs as desired. You can also store the tea in the fridge for a few days or freeze it to drink later on.
What are some creative uses for pine needles?
There are plenty of creative ways to put those fallen pine needles to use. From wreaths and fire starters to tea and fertilizer, you can find a use for them all. So get outside and start gathering.
Bedding for Chicks. Pine Needles can also be used as a type of bedding for baby chickens. If you’re raising chickens, the needles make great bedding for them. This can be especially helpful if your chicks are too young to move around outside yet and need something soft to lie on inside their hutch or coop.
Christmas wreath: Gather some fresh green pine branches, tie them together at the top, and add a bow.
Pine cone fire starters: Soak pine cones in wax, let them dry, and then light them on fire to start a campfire.
Natural dyes: Use the needles to dye wool, fabric, or paper a natural shade of green.
Creative decoration: Combine dried pine needles with other botanical elements for an aromatic display.
Winter mulch: Cover flower beds, gardens, and trees with a layer of pine needles to protect them from the cold weather. Not only will this keep the ground insulated, but it will also discourage pests from invading.
Bird feeder: Attach pine cones to wireframe and fill them with birdseed. The birds will love the extra shelter and you’ll get to enjoy their company.
Tassels: Pine Needle Tassels are a great way to upcycle the pine needles you would normally throw away. The beauty of this craft is that it can be as simple or as intricate as you want, depending on what look you’re going for. Rather than discarding those lovely pine needle tassels after your holiday decorations come down, give them new life by turning them into gift tags or pins.
Natural air freshener: Put some pine branches into your car’s ventilation system with the heat on for an instant boost of scent.
Crafts: Pine cones are perfect for a number of craft projects, from wreaths to bird feeders
What are other uses?
Here are three more examples.
Soap: Add pine needles to a batch of soap for a natural, refreshing scent.
Floor cleaner: Mix crushed needles with water and vinegar to make an all-natural floor cleaner.
Sachets: Fill small cloth bags with dried needles and place them in dresser drawers or closets for a fresh smell.
What are the health benefits of pine needles?
Ease respiratory problems: Drinking a strong infusion of fresh or dried needles, inhaling the vapors from boiling water with needles in it, and applying crushed leaves to your skin can all help ease congestion.
Reduce inflammation: Pine needle tea is good for soothing digestive tract inflammations. The tincture also has a similar effect when applied topically.
Support the immune system: The high vitamin C in pine needles can help you fight off infection and keep your body healthy. Some people also take supplements containing dehydrated or pulverized pine needles to boost their immunity after being sick, but this isn’t recommended without professional supervision because too much vitamin C can cause digestive problems.
Promote urinary tract health: Pine needle tea is good for soothing symptoms of a UTI, but you should only drink it if your infection is caused by Escherichia coli because the tincture won’t work on other bacteria strains.
How long do pine needles last?
Needles can last for a few weeks up to several months, depending on the variety and climate.
Fresh: Pine needles can be used fresh or dried.
Dried: Dry needles will last longer than fresh ones. The easiest way to dry them is by spreading them out in the sun on a clean surface like a newspaper where they won’t blow away. Once totally dry, store your pine needles in an airtight container until use.
Freezing: If you plan to keep them longer than 12 months it might be best to freeze what you don’t need right now so that they stay preserved and full of nutrients between uses. You should also note that some varieties are better suited for cooking purposes rather than medicinal ones because their nutritional content varies.
To store needles, place them in a container with a tight-fitting lid or seal them in a plastic bag.
What to do with fresh pine needles?
Composting is made easier with these. They will decompose fast, and the nutrients in them can help your plants develop robust and healthy roots after they are removed.
If you don’t have a garden or if the season has passed by when you get started on this project, try adding some dried leaves along with the pine needles so that there’s enough material to keep things going until next year. You’ll also want to turn over what you’ve got every now and then as it breaks down so air gets into it too before everything is completely decomposed.
What to do with dried pine needles?
If you’re looking for what to do with dried pine needles, consider using them as mulch. They’ll help keep the soil around your plants moist and protected from the sun’s heat.
Not only that, but they can also deter pests from coming near your greens. If you have a lot of needles on hand, why not try making a little protective fence around your garden? It won’t be pretty, but it will definitely do the trick.
Pine needles have a number of uses beyond what Santa and his elves will be using them for this December. Their unique scent, properties, and yes, nutritional value (of some varieties), make them perfect for a number of applications. Industrious humans have utilized them as compost, food, all-natural cleaners, and medicine. All that’s left for you to do is give them a try.
If you have any more ideas on what to do with pine needles, please share them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you. And don’t forget to Pin this post so you can come back to it later. Happy crafting.