How to Prune Ponderosa Pine


The ponderosa pine is a widespread pine that is native to North America, particularly in the alpine ranges of the Rocky Mountains. The ponderosa is a tree that rarely needs pruning for aesthetic reasons. Most pruning care for the ponderosa is limited to removing disease and maintaining the tree's health.

Step 1

Shape trees when they are still young by pinching them rather than pruning with chain saws, pruners or loppers. Shaping trees while they are still young will eliminate forks in trees and make the tree more aesthetically pleasing. Waiting until a tree is mature before shaping it will cause problems with the tree later on.

Step 2

Wait until fall or winter to prune your ponderosa pine. Although ponderosa pines are evergreens and can be pruned safely throughout the year, waiting until fall minimizes sap and resin flow from cut branches and prevents infection from beetles and diseases.

Step 3

Mix a sanitizing solution for your chain saw made of one part bleach and nine parts water. Lopping tools such as chain saws should be sanitized in between every use for healthy trees, and in between every cut when trimming back diseased growth on unhealthy trees.

Step 4

Cut your branches at the trunk of the tree with an angular cut that starts just outside of the branch collar and slopes downward and away from the tree's trunk. For large branches, first make an undercut in the branch 6 inches from the trunk, then cut the tree limb from top to bottom further out on the limb. Remove the stub left behind by making a cut next to the bole of the tree. Make the cut as close to the branch axil as possible without damaging the branch collar. Make a clean cut, without splintering or tearing the branch.

Step 5

Remove any branches that rub across another branch. For safety reasons, you should also remove any dead hanging branches. Avoid topping or tipping the tree. This can cause the tree to become weakened, and allow bugs or disease to set into the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Chain Saw
  • Household Bleach
  • Water


  • Withstanding the Storm: Ponderosa Pine
  • How to Prune Trees
  • Pruning Evergreen Branches

Who Can Help

  • Ponderosa Pine Forest
Keywords: pine tree care, pruning pine trees, ponderosa pine

About this Author

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.