Bales of Straw vs. Bales of Hay: Which to Use for my Garden

Feb 25, 2022 | Landscape Supply, Uncategorized

You can have the most vibrant garden in your neighborhood; yes, it’s possible! You may already know that our mulch, compost, and topsoil are great resources for your growing process. But don’t forget about the advantages that our bales of straw can provide for your flower beds. Let’s take a closer look at the differences between bales of hay vs. straw and how they can help your garden flourish with growth.

What’s the Difference Between Straw and Hay?

Bales of hay and straw are very similar to one another; you might even think the two words were interchangeable. However, there are key differences between the two plant-based nutrients. Bales of hay are made from the stems, leaves, and seed heads of plants that are grown as a feed crop for cattle. Hay is cut and baled when it has the most nutritional value and is fed to livestock. On the other hand, bales of straw refers to the stalks of grasses, particularly wheat, oats, rye, barley, and buckwheat. When used collectively, the term straw refers to the drying and threshing of grain.

Benefits of Bales of Hay and Bales of Straw

First, consider the benefits that hay and straw both provide. For example, both straw and hay are easy to lay and are compostable.  Once your bale is done for the year, you can take it apart and throw it into the compost pile so you can return the nutrients into the soil. This is an easy way the return the nutrients back to the earth, continuing the cycle of decomposing resources. Now, consider the unique benefits of each option:

Bales of Straw

  • Bales of straw are better for use in a garden because they are a byproduct of wheat and other grain crops that suppress weed growth. Plus, farmers will also use additional methods to control weeds in these fields, which results in straw with no or very little weed contamination.
  • Straw often contains fewer toxins than hay.
  • Use straw when growing vegetables on the sweeter side, such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, and strawberries.
  • Straw typically costs less than bales of hay.
  • Straw is the more consistent product because you often won’t know what plant combination you’ll get in a bale of hay.

Bales of Hay

  • Bales of hay can work well for growing starchy foods such as corn, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
  • Because of its nutritional value, it adds to the blooming and health of your growing season.
  • Bales of hay can serve multiple purposes, growing foliage on your property while also feeding your livestock.

The Drawbacks of Straw and Hay Bales

Now that you understand the benefits of both options, let’s take a look at the disadvantages of them. Both straw and hay bales can be high maintenance because unless you suffocate the weeds before you plant your garden, your bales will sprout and there will be an overgrowth of weeds. Your bale could also start to germinate due to the fact that it’s still a living resource.

However, there is an upside to this; these funguses and weeds are easy to pull out of your flowerbed and will not affect or harm your plants. Finally, the bales can be heavy to lift especially when wet, so please be careful while transporting them. 

Contact Us to Learn More

At Kurtz Bros., we like to see our customers the same way they like to see their gardens… happy and healthy! Visit the closest Kurtz Bros. location or contact us to learn more gardening tips and suggestions. Our helpful team would be happy to assist you!

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Expertly Reviewed By:
Matt Malone, Vice President Operations
Matt Malone
Matt is an accomplished business professional with over three decades of experience in the green industry. As a graduate of the University of Toledo with a Bachelors of Business Administration, he has put his extensive education and training to work in his nearly 15 years with Kurtz Bros., where he currently serves as Vice President of Operations.

Learn More About Matt

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