How to Trim Pine Trees


Pine trees thrive throughout the United States. Some species of pine trees grow exclusively in the northern parts of the United States, while others need the warmer temperatures of the southern United States. Neglect or improper treatment of pine trees causes them to become unsightly and sickly. While pine trees normally do not need pruning, trim pine trees occasionally as part of a regular tree maintenance program.

Step 1

Prune off all dead, diseased and damaged limbs with your pruning saw. These limbs are of no benefit to the tree any longer and can cause damage to the tree and nearby structures.

Step 2

Prune the new central leader, or "candle" of the pine tree with your pruning shears. The central leader is the vertical branch that grows straight up off the top of the pine tree. Cut it back to a 8- to 14-inch long stub.

Step 3

Prune the side branches around the central leader. These should be pruned 4 to 6 inches shorter than the central leader.

Step 4

Prune down the rest of the pine tree. Each branch should be pruned longer than the one above it to form a uniform pyramid shape in the pine tree.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not top pine trees. Topping--when you cut all branches of a pine tree off above a certain height--exposes the tree to disease, decay and damaging insects. Avoid pruning pine trees in wet weather. This allows disease to penetrate into the pine tree. Dry summer weather is the ideal time to prune pine trees.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning saw
  • Pruning shears
  • Step ladder


  • University of Idaho Extension: How to Prune Coniferous Evergreen Trees
  • Colorado State University Extension: Pruning Evergreens
Keywords: trim pine trees, pruning saw, central leader, top pine trees, wet weather

About this Author

Robin Gonyo has been writing for several years now. She has a deep love for gardening and has spent a vast amount of time researching that subject. Previously she has written for private clients before joining Demand Studios. She hopes to share her knowledge with others through her writing.