Pine Straw: What Can It Do to My Roof?

Pine Straw: What Can It Do to My Roof?

Pine straw refers to those bundles of needles that seem to collect so easily in corners, valleys, and gutters of your roof. In Georgia, longleaf or shortleaf pines may be the worst offenders along with the common, hardy slash pine. If you have some of these dumping needles on your roof, here's what you need to know.

Pine Needles

The dangers of pine straw

When those falling pine needles start clumping together, they can cause problems for your rooftop. The worst of those include:

  • Moisture trapping: That layer of pine needles is excellent at trapping moisture, which causes direct damage to your roof and encourages the growth of moss or mold. While pine needles can dry out quickly, the thicket they form prevents moisture from escaping, forcing it to linger on your roof.
  • Easy matting: Pine needles can form clumping mats with very little encouragement. That's where we get the term "pine straw" and why these needles can be more annoying than deciduous leaves. Once a mat has built up in valleys of your roof, it is rarely dislodged and shingles underneath suffer.
  • Crack problems: In windy conditions, needles can be forced up into your shingle edges, opening up new gaps for leaks to form. Left alone, needles can be wedged in these small cracks for months, compromising your roof.
  • Gutter clogging: When pine needles do get washed down off your roof, they tend to form new clumps in your gutters, which makes it easier for your gutters to become clogged and requires more extensive cleanup.
  • Allergy issues: Pine needles tend to trap pollen, especially in warmer months. It doesn't bother everybody, but you don't want to deal with pine straw if you have allergies. There's no good that can come of that combination.

Taking care of pine needle clumps

Cleaning seasonally: The good news about pine needles is that they are generally easy to remove. When they mat together, it's easy to strip away a whole layer of needles at one time, making cleanup easier than you might expect. You can usually clean out gutters by hand, but a broom or rake work well for your roof, when used appropriately. Remember, however, that you can quickly damage your roof by walking on it carelessly or using the wrong tools - when it doubt, get expert help. It's a good idea to clear up pine needles before winter storms and when the weather starts clearing up after winter. Because pine trees are evergreen, needles can fall on your roof throughout the year, but especially during bad weather.

Gutter guards: Gutter covers and guards can prove particularly effective in keeping out pine needles. Having them doesn't mean you'll never have to clean your gutters again, but if you want to save some time high up on a ladder, investing in gutter protection may be worth it. Let us know if you'd like to learn more.

Photo source: Flickr

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