Local News

Some Raleigh homeowners feel safe with pine straw

Posted April 1, 2010 3:44 p.m. EDT
Updated April 1, 2010 6:15 p.m. EDT

— Pine straw has been cited as a contributing factor in several fires in Raleigh and the city council is expected to consider an ordinance next week that would limit its use in close proximity to buildings. Still, some local homeowners say they feel safe using the product.

Carolyn Allen, of Raleigh, said she has always used pine straw in her garden.

“I do not like mulch up against my house because that can cause termites,” Allen said Thursday.

The Raleigh Fire Department recommended Wednesday that the city pass an ordinance “prohibiting the use of pine straw within 10 feet of any combustible structure” in light of the fire that displaced 11 people from the 200 block of Armadale Lane, in the Highland Creek subdivision. Exceptions to the recommendation would include oneand two-family homes.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meekersaid he plans to ask the city council for an ordinance to keep pine straw 20 to 30 feet from buildings, including single-family homes. The council is to take up the issue at its meeting next Tuesday.

“I think 20 to 30 feet is excessive,” said Ronnie Horne, vice president of Commercial Pine Straw in Raleigh.

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Horne, who is a member of the Pine Needles Producers Association, supports the fire marshal's recommendation specifically addressing pine straw near structures with a combustible exterior surface.

“But for all the other properties (made of) concrete, brick and hardiplank, all those materials, it’s not an issue,” Horne said.

Pat Law said she uses mulch for her flowerbeds and a strip of pine straw near her brick home. Law said she wouldn’t feel as safe having pine straw if her home were made of siding.

Allen said she doesn’t have any concerns with pine straw up against her brick home either. She plans to replenish in the fall and hopes she'll still be able to.

“I’d hate to see them do that (prohibit where pine straw can be placed), especially with so many people using it,” she said.