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Pruning a Pine Tree

Evergreens with needle-like foliage, called conifers, usually need pruning only to remove dead, damaged, or diseased limbs. You can also prune to keep their growth compact. Pruning methods vary depending on the conifer's branching habit.

Tools and Materials

  • Hand pruners
  • Loppers
  • Safety glasses
  • Leather gloves

Remove any dead, diseased or injured wood with lopping shears or a pruning saw. Pines are notorious for containing a lot of dead branches near the trunk. Start here first.

Pruning A Pine TreeCut away the branches that sweep the ground, unless you like that look. Bringing the foliage a few feet up from the ground makes it much easier to mow under the tree and to do basic clean-up chores. It also permits easy access to the inside frame work of the tree.

Reduce the size of the tree by pruning the new growth, called candles, by half. The candles grow rapidly in the early summer, which is when this particular job should be done. By cutting the candles in half, the new growth will be limited and you can control the eventual size of the tree.

Use a pole pruner to reach the higher branches. The pole pruner has a saw and a hook blade that makes work in the upper reaches of a tree easy.


When removing large branches, leave the branching collar in tact. (The branching collar is the bit of wrinkled bark that grows near the trunk.) If left in place, the branching collar will grow over the cut and the wound will recover quickly. If you cut too close to the trunk and remove the branching collar, the wound may not heal properly, allowing insects to enter the trunk.

Watch for falling branches when using the pole pruner!






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