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How to Prune Monterey Pine

Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) is one of 100 pine species. The bright green pine grows in a small section of California. It can achieve heights of 50 to 100 feet, and a diameter of 1 to 3 feet. The Monterey pine bears trios of needles that are 4 to 6 inches in length. The cones are the size of baseballs, with a woody texture. They stay closed and tightly attached to the tree for decades. Monterey pines have dark, reddish brown bark with deep furrows and ridges. You should prune Monterey pine trees from a young age in order to improve the health of the tree and form a more desirable shape.

Prune Monterey pine trees during the fall and winter in order to lessen the likelihood of beetle infestation. This is the tree's dormant season, so growth is not occurring.

Thin out the crown of young Monterey pines to let air and sunlight penetrate. Remove branches that are crossing or rubbing each other. Cut them off deep inside the tree, at the joint they share with other wood.

Climb the ladder and look through the tree's bulk. Shorten overly long branches with a pruning saw to increase the chances of the tree withstanding winter with less damage. Storms can break major limbs or cause Monterey pines to topple over.

Remove unwanted branches throughout the young Monterey Pine tree. Instead of committing the common mistake of removing lower branches only, thus increasing the top-heaviness of the tree, select branches all over the tree to remove.

Cut branches that appear to be weak, diseased or dead. They are clogging up the inside of the tree, blocking sunlight from getting to lower branches. Place the cuts at the base of the unwanted limbs, where they meet healthy wood.


Wear gloves for protection when pruning Monterey pines.

Spread heavy pruning over a period of a few seasons, instead of trying to do it all at once.

Use pruning shears on thin branches and a pruning saw on thicker limbs.


Avoid topping Monterey pine trees. Cutting off only the top will weaken the tree.

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