How to Grow Pine Trees in Iowa


Many pines--from fraser fir or scotch pine to red or white pine--make ideal holiday trees. Iowa gardeners can plan a pine stand in their yard for use as holiday trees or choose one of these evergreens as a landscape tree. Plant pine trees in Iowa when temperatures warm to 50 degrees F, typically in April. Iowa's climate and soil combine to offer pine trees a very healthy growing environment.

Step 1

Select a site that offers your pine tree well draining soil and enough room to mature. Iowa State University advises selecting a site on the northeast side of the house since this provides protection from wind and offers more shade.

Step 2

Dig a hole twice as wide as your pine tree's root ball and just as deep. Remove rocks and weeds from the hole.

Step 3

Remove your pine tree from its container and break apart the root ball by squeezing it in your hands. Unwind tangled roots before planting, since pine trees can choke if planted with tangled roots.

Step 4

Place the pine tree in the hole so it sits at the same depth in the ground as it did in its container and its trunk is vertically straight.

Step 5

Backfill the hole with soil to plant the pine tree.

Step 6

Water the newly planted pine tree until the ground becomes saturated and soil compresses around the tree's trunk.

Step 7

Mulch the ground around the base of your pine tree with a 2-inch layer of wood chips. This helps the soil retain moisture and protects the tree's roots during winter frosts.

Step 8

Do not fertilize your pine trees. Iowa State University notes that Iowa's soils provide adequate resources for pines, so additional fertilizing could damage the pine tree by burning its needles.

Step 9

Give your pine tree 1 inch of water per week. To determine how much water this is, turn on your hose on its lowest setting and run water into a bucket. Time how long it takes to fill the bucket 1 inch.

Step 10

Prune pines each year only to remove dead, diseased or damaged wood. Once the pine tree is at least four years old you can begin to shape the tree by trimming the branches back so it takes on a pyramidal shape. If you don't want to train your pine to a pyramidal shape, allow it to keep its natural form. Dead wood feels brittle, while diseased or damaged wood may be broken, bent or discolored.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Pine tree sapling
  • Water
  • Wood chips
  • Lopping shears


  • Iowa State University: Christmas Tree Production in Iowa
  • Wisconsin;'s Basin Education Initiative: White Pine
Keywords: pine tree production, planting pine Iowa, growing pine Iowa

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.