How to Clear Pine Trees


Pine trees are frequently grown as a cash crop lumber tree. To harvest the lumber, you must clear large stands of pine trees. Additionally, in wooded areas, pine tree will naturally seed and grow very close together. Because pine trees are a shade intolerant plant, clearing large stands of pines is an important part of letting sunlight reach the forest floor and allowing the remaining trees to thrive. In areas where heavy equipment isn't available, pines must be cleared one at a time by hand.

Step 1

Observe the shape of the tree. Pine trees typically have an upright growth, but if the tree tilts or has more branches on one side, the weight may cause it to fall naturally in that direction. You should also determine what external factors such as wind may cause the tree to fall in a particular direction.

Step 2

Examine the area around the pine tree for obstacles that can make cutting the tree down difficult. You should not attempt to cut down pine trees near power lines. Move any vehicles or other obstacles that could become damaged by a falling pine tree. Remove any roots, stones or other objects that you could trip over.

Step 3

Plan an escape route in the opposite direction that you plan for the tree to fall in. Remove any obstacles that would cause you to trip as you flee down this route.

Step 4

Cut a "V" or wedge-shaped notch that extends 1/3 to ½ of the way through the bottom of the tree. The notch should open in the direction that you want the tree to fall in.

Step 5

Create a cut on the opposite side of the tree's trunk by slicing horizontally through the tree. The cut should be positioned slightly higher than the V shaped wedge on the front side of the tree and should stop just short of the V shaped wedge. The tree will tilt over in the direction of the V shaped cut and fall.

Step 6

Retreat away from the tree following your planned escape path as it falls.

Step 7

Wait for the pine tree to settle and all debris, called widowmakers, to fall. Start at the bottom of the tree and begin to remove branches on the opposite side of the tree from you by sawing through the branch with the chain saw.

Step 8

Saw the trunk of the tree into usable lengths. If you are cutting a tree for the purpose of removal, saw it into lengths small enough to make hauling away easy. If you are cutting the tree to be harvested, cut the trunk into pieces long enough to harvest the wood from. Cut trees on level ground straight downward from top to bottom. Cut trees that are suspended in the air 1/3 of the way from the top of the tree and 2/3 of the way from the underside. Be careful to not run the chain of your saw into the ground.

Tips and Warnings

  • When removing limbs from a pine tree, the tree may shift unexpectedly. Always keep a firm footing and even balance so that you can move to get out of the way of a tree limb or the tree. Avoid tiny trees that may have become trapped by the fallen pine. These trees can spring up and hit you as you cut up the tree and free them.

Things You'll Need

  • Chain saw


  • Missouri State University: Felling, Bucking and Limbing Trees
  • Oregon State University Extension: Safe and Effective Use of Chain Saws for Woodland Owners
  • NC State University Extension: Twigs and Branches - Clear-Cutting Timber Stands

Who Can Help

  • NC State University Extension: Thinning Pine Stands
Keywords: clearing pine stands, thinning pine trees, felling a tree

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."