Shredding Pine Cones for Mulch

Credit: flickr /madcowIV

Q: I have a lot of pine cones on my property. Can I put them through a wood chipper and use them as landscaping material? What are the benefits and the drawbacks?

I found this nifty video of a man using a four-horsepower shredder to shred three sizes of pine cones and a bag of pine needles. The pine cones ended up at roughly the same density as mulch and the pine needles reduced in volume by four to one.

Even though they have been shredded, pine cones and pine needles break down fairly slowly because the cones are woody and the needles have a waxy coating. I would use the shredded mulch mainly around shrubs and trees or on a pathway rather than where you plan to plant perennials or annuals.

Add a sprinkling of dolomite lime at the same time, to counteract acidity created by the mulch. Around shrubs, you can sprinkle some all-purpose fertilizer in spring, as decaying mulch will temporarily deplete the available nitrogen in the soil.

I can’t think of any downsides, but make sure you don’t add too much pine cone mulch to areas where you’re planting small plants, like annuals.