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I recently removed old roots, weeds and grass from a small area in front of our house. I had some leftover mushroom compost, so I built up some areas to make the entire area level, but now it seems that dead pine needles from a neighbouring tree are falling onto the area I just seeded. Will the pine needles not allow the seeds to germinate? Is there anything I can do?

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The pine needles shouldn't really impede the growth of the grass unless they wind up covering the ground quite thick. It is common to put straw or other cover on grass seed to protect it from too much sun, animals, erosion, etc.

BUT if those "old roots" you removed were actually from said pine tree, this could cause the pine tree to drop a lot of needles that could, in theory, smother the seed.

Of very low concern - at least in most scenarios - is the pH change that could occur from the pine needles. I would expect the seed to establish before this could become an issue, though.

  • Thanks. Do you think the immense amount of pine needles could signal an issue with the pine tree? It seems like there is more than past years. The roots I remove were very small, so I don't believe they were from the pine tree. The pine tree is over 100 feet tall and I am concerned about it's health, so I am having it checked out. – veclempt Sep 27 '17 at 20:32
  • Great that you are having your trees checked out by an...arborist. Otherwise, pine needle drop is normal, healthy. I wouldn't use them as a mulch, definitely add them to my compost piles. Pine trees actually have seasons where the needle drop is pronounced...even pollination is every other year. Don't worry about pulling roots out of the ground for a garden or plant bed. The trees won't care unless too many...are destroyed. In fact pulling roots causes MORE roots to grow...more chemistry allotted to the roots to grow more roots. A little stress is good. – stormy Sep 27 '17 at 20:52
  • Did you plant seed directly into mushroom compost? – stormy Sep 27 '17 at 20:53
  • Yes, I did plant it into the mushroom compost and then I skimmed over it with a rake. Is the mushroom compost going to cause an issue? – veclempt Sep 28 '17 at 1:01
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    Follow up on Stormy: In East TX I routinely cut Loblolly pine roots up to 2 inch diameter when planting . I don't cut larger roots because it is too much work ; In 20 years the trees have not cared. Annual rye grass comes up through a continuous layer of pine needles., no problem. – blacksmith37 Sep 29 '17 at 16:15

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