How to Cultivate Pine Trees


Pines are a diverse family of softwood evergreen trees cultivated for a variety of uses including landscaping nursery stock, Christmas trees, and lumber. As hardy, native trees, pines require little maintenance once they are well established, but proper cultivation techniques are necessary to get your home, market, or commercial pine plantation off to a good start.

Step 1

Clear all existing growth from the intended pine plantation site the fall before planting, with either a controlled burn, spreading black plastic over the soil, or application of herbicides. Spade or till soil to a depth of 10 inches, and rake the surface smooth, removing rocks, roots, and other objects from the soil.

Step 2

Plant 2- to 3-year-old pines seedlings 4 feet apart in rows 8 feet apart as early in the spring as the soil can be worked. Erect frames and hang shade cloth configured to shade the seedlings through midday.

Step 3

Water new transplants thoroughly, then mulch with a 6-inch layer of straw or pine needles. Water daily for one week, then weekly for three to six months.

Step 4

Remove shade netting late in the autumn following the spring planting. Remove weeds that have sprouted through the summer by hand weeding, specific herbicide application, or tilling as appropriate to the size of your plantation. Water thoroughly, then apply a fresh 6-inch layer of mulch. Cease watering from November through late spring.

Step 5

Maintain annual weed control, and watering during dry spells, for three years after planting pine transplants. Prune away multiple leaders for Christmas tree cultivation, and begin annual shearing to the desired shape at three years after planting transplants. Plant grass seed between Christmas tree rows, water and mulch seed, then mow regularly until tree harvest.

Step 6

Thin trees to 8 inches apart at year 25 for lumber cultivation. Prune lower branches off remaining trees to 18 inches from the ground.

Things You'll Need

  • Horticultural weed-killing torch
  • Black plastic sheeting
  • Herbicides
  • Spade
  • Rototiller or disc tiller
  • Metal rake
  • Hose and sprinkler, or irrigation system
  • Shade cloth
  • Frame for shade cloth
  • Straw or pine needle mulch
  • Grass seed
  • Mower
  • Pruners
  • Shaping shears
  • Pole pruners
  • Pole saw


  • Growing Evergreen Trees from Seed, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County
  • Tree Crops for Marginal Farmland: White Pine, Clatterbuck and Ganus, U. Tenn. Ag. Extension
  • Forest Farming: Christmas Tree, Deborah Hill, U. Kentucky College of Agriculture

Who Can Help

  • Monterey Pine, National Center for Conservation Science and Policy
Keywords: grow pines, white pine, christmas trees

About this Author

Cindy Hill has practiced law since 1987 and maintained a career in freelance writing since 1978. Hill has won numerous fiction and poetry awards and has published widely in the field of law and politics. She is an adjunct instructor of ethics and communications.