Should I pick up pinecones on my property?

Lately I’ve been enjoying working outside, I like to be outside in my front/back yard but I get bored if I’m not doing something out there (Like filming bugs for iNat, working on the cars, etc) I’ve noticed how many pinecones have fallen all over my property over the 6 or so years I’ve been living here. I have multiple full sized pine trees on my property that have dropped hundered of pinecones everywhere. And the crunch of stepping on one by accident has cost me a couple birds/bugs I’ve tried to observe. I was wondering if I’d be doing something wrong if I picked up the pinecones? All the pinecones on the ground have no seeds and just kinda sit around, and I haven’t seen any animals come collect them for whatever reason. So I might as well pick up the pinecones and spend some time outside right? I just feel like theres a catch to it or something because all of my neighbors have lawns except for me and I’ve never seen them pick up their pinecones, I know I’m probably overthinking the pinecones but until I get an answer I wont stop noticing all the pinecones and I wont stop thinking about them which makes me notice more pinecones and that stresses me out.

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Pine cones make great firelighters. Try selling them to your neighbours!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWCbLoFIe7I

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My reply posted while I was writing it, oops.

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Considering the fact I dont even think my neighbors who are at least 20+ years my senior know my name I’d rather pick up each pinecone by hand right now getting eaten alive by the mosquitos than try to make my neighbors buy a bag of random pinecones.

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You could give them away. You’re bound to find someone out there who understands and appreciates the art of fire making and would be very grateful. You get rid of the cones, they get an easy way to start a roaring fire. Win-win!

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Pine cones can work as a nesting spot for insects. So, I would recommend leaving some in a specific area in your yard, or if you have an area of taller plants, I would leave them in there. That way, you’ll still be giving the insects their nesting spot, while also making loud cracks from pinecones.

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Perhaps this tech could be modified to help avoid treading on pine cones…

https://gizmodo.com/dog-tech-smart-robot-laser-arm-poop-maker-security-came-1848974458

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As @russellclarke says, pine cones make great starters. Thus, they are a bit of a fire hazard. I would pick up the pinecones from around the house for a safety reason, maybe leaving some is not a problem, but a lot of them will make a fire more dangerous.

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I don’t live in an area prone to wildfires like California, but thanks anyways.

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Open up your paths, and leave the pinecones in dedicated ‘brush’ piles for future insect obs … win win. Are your pines original forest trees, or planted? If forest they will sustain your web of life.

Here they are deliberate plantations which suppress our fynbos (guzzle water, fuel fires)

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My understanding of pinecones is that, as you suggest, by the time pinecones fall off the tree they have already released their seed, so I guess they are in the same category as dead leaves. I suppose there would be a case for leaving them to return to the soil as compost, but unless you are leaving your lawn clippings to mulch down, there is probably no case for leaving the pinecones as well.

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As someone has said, pine cones are used by invertebrates for various reasons. Before you decide whether to dispose of them all, I suggest you put a dozen in a sandwich box and watch for a few weeks to see what emerges.

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Collect them and consolidate them into an area. Make something like a raised bed with them (or an area specific ground cover) that will afford lots of invertebrate habitat, slowly decompose, and keep them out of where you don’t want them.

You can speed the decomposition process, as well as provide more habitat, by tossing your old leaves and discarded pine needles on them too.

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You also can move them a little to create paths with no cones on them.

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I live in a forest/farm area. Many pine cones, everywhere! The squirrels and chipmunks eat what they want and leave piles of cone debris. Insects and fungi have their way with them. I rake trails (started by animals, they do know the best ways through) and just flip everything trail side. All the sticks and cones and other large debris in what is referred to as “the civilized portion” around the house are removed to the forest before mowing. It’s your place, don’t worry about the neighbors. What you do with them is also up to you. Pile around the tree trunks or make things. Just as long as you have peace of mind, enjoy your home and keep posting observations! Oh! Don’t bring them in the house without debugging!

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I like the idea of just making some paths or moving them to a designated area. I always try to leave grass clippings, leaves, pinecones, etc. on my property. They were made from nutrients on my property and would rather they continue the cycle on my property. As someone else said, once they release their seeds, they are basically like fallen leaves. But remember, fallen leaves make a great ecosystem on the forest (yard) floor. So, I suppose it all depends on how “natural” you want your yard to appear.

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I am sure their nooks and crannies provide homes and nurseries and hunting grounds to more tiny creatures than you can imagine. Even if the cones themselves don’t harbour much life, they will give shade and trap a layer of warmth and humidity against the ground, that will doubtless enrich the soil surface environment for its tiny inhabitants. So I definitely wouldn’t clear all of them. But it sounds like you have a lot, and so I doubt that getting rid of the half that are most in your way would cause any great impact.

I’ll give the contrarian view and say that, if you live in a part of the world with no native pines, as I do, their cones only usually harbour exotic invertebrates such as slaters and Portuguese millipedes, so getting rid of them is a good thing.

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I don’t have a lawn, but I do have a dedicated mulch like that I keep there because it’s a nice habitat for insects since it retains alot of water. I do think of the pinecones as dead leaves that’s a good way of putting it.

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Also, if you can find some pinecone specific fungi to introduce to any piles you make, that can help break them down… And they are super interesting! Here’s one species: https://www.forestfloornarrative.com/blog/2018/6/8/fungi-friday-baeospora-myosura?format=amp

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