How to Trim a Pine Tree Without Killing It

Pine trees seldom need trimming but once they do, they needs to be handled with care. A bad trim can leave the tree open to deadly infections. The tree can die quickly when its trunk is infected.

So keep the rules below in mind if you don’t want to kill the beauty in your yard.

How to Trim a Pine Tree Without Killing It

When to Trim Your Pine Trees

The best time to trim a tree is when it is sleeping. However, as an evergreen, pine trees never sleep. Therefore, it’s ideal to trim a pine tree in late winter or spring to offer the perfect warm weather for new growths.

If pruning is needed to correct damage, you can do it at any time of year. Winter is the worst time of the year to trim your tree as new growths often remain too tender to survive and too weak to ward off insects and disease.

Proper Guide to Trim Pine Trees

To prune the tree, you will need a shear or a long reach pole saw. For trimming, get a hedge trimmer, either electric or gas-powered. Loppers can also be used if the branches are only up to 2 inches thick.

Use household antiseptic cleaner for your cutting tools to avoid potential plant diseases that could linger on the blade from previous plants.

Don’t forget protective gloves, goggles, and sturdy shoes to protect you from any potential injuries.

How to Trim a Pine Tree Without Killing It

6 Steps to Trim Your Pine Trees

Step 1: Cut off any suckers growing at the base of the trunk as they only steal energy from the tree.

See also  Top 7 Best Bagged Compost Reviews In 2021 & Buying Guide

Step 2: Remove all undesired overgrown branches for aesthetic purposes or safety.

Step 3: Prune off all the dead or dying branches to prevent insects and other pests from living and burrowing and diseases from forming and promoting the spreading.

Step 4: Remove unwanted or hazardous branches if they hang low, touch your house, or cause some kind of a safety hazard.

Step 5: Remove any damaged or weak branches, as they make the tree prone to pests and diseases.

Step 6: Trim out overlapping branches that rub together as they will eventually cause damage to each other.

Popular Q&As

1. Can you cut the top off?

Yes, you can top of your pine trees as long as it is handled properly. Don’t cut off the entire top part of the pine tree to remain its reproductive section. The crown of the pine tree hosts much of the new growth and pine cone production.

In many cases, the trees might even die from becoming starved of nutrients and sickly. Cutting it off also makes the tree more prone to insects, disease, and internal decay. For aesthetic purposes, cutting off the top doesn’t do any good either as the tree will eventually grow unevenly and ugly.

2. Can you trim lower branches?

The lower branches of a pine tree act as a stabilizer to the branches above them so you should only trim them off dead ones. Without the stabilizer, the upper branches will lose their support and eventually collapse or break, especially in areas with heavy snowfall in the winter.

See also  How To Get Rid Of Slugs In Garden Permanently? Slug Control

3. Does it grow back?

No, not at all. he branches and needles of your pine trees won’t regrow. Pines never grow up from the trunks bottom or base. Think twice before you cut off any of them.

4. How do you stop a pine tree from growing taller?

The one and only to maintain your tree’s current height is to cut off the leader. Doing so helps shorten the space between the whorls of the pine according to the University of Idaho Extension. Follow these steps to remove the central leader safely:

  • Prune the leader to a 10 or 12-inch stub. The cut should be at a 45-degree angle just above a well-formed bud, preferably on the north side of the plant.
  • Trim off the surrounding whorl of branches until they are about 4 to 6 inches shorter than the leader.
  • To maintain the perfect uniformly shaped pyramidal shape of the tree, trim off side branches in a similar fashion.
How to Trim a Pine Tree Without Killing It

Other Tips & Warnings

  • In case you think it is unsafe to remove the branches, seek help from a professional arborist.
  • Start small if you have never trimmed it before. Don’t go overboard, cutting off too many branches.
  • To prevent the heavier branches from falling and stripping the bark off of the pine, cut it in sections.
  • Avoid cutting the branches off right at the trunks base.
  • Leave about an inch to half an inch on the tree to prevent the trunk base from being exposed to the elements and insects.
  • Do not over trim the bottom or base as the branches won’t grow back and they act as a much-needed stabilizer to the branches above them.
  • Dead or infected branches should be cut to prevent the tree from being prone to insects, pests, and diseases.
  • Avoid removing a whole branch.
  • Thin out stems instead if the branch is too thick.
See also  How to Get Rid of Moles in Yard with Juicy Fruit Gum


Pine trees will be such a stunning beauty if being taken good care of. A small mistake can lead to its death, so follow the rules we list above to know well when your pine trees need trimming and how to avoid trimming damages.

Photo of author

Jill Sandy

I am a sustainable focus gardener. I love decorating my home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques I develop myself.