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How to Trim Austrian Pine Trees

The Austrian pine tree is also known as Pinus nigra. It is a beautiful evergreen that can reach a height of 60 feet and a spread of 20 to 40 feet; it is hardy in zones 4 through 7. Pruning requirements are minimal, with pruning only necessary to remove dead, diseased, or broken branches; to maintain its shape and size within your landscape design; and to provide clearance underneath the tree (if that is your preference). The tools that you use will depend upon the size and location of the branches that you will be trimming.

Trim off any damaged or diseased branch or branches as soon as possible. Make a clean cut at the breaking point of damaged branches. You may also choose to remove the entire branch—just consider the overall appearance of the tree. Remove diseased branches completely (do not leave a stub).

Trim back new growth to maintain the width of the tree within your landscape design. Cut back new growth by cutting back the candle to half its length. This should be done in the spring after the new shoots or candles appear. Make sure that the candles have completed their growth before you trim—you will notice that the needles are still soft.

Trim away lower branches to provide clearance underneath the tree. Realize that this will destroy the natural shape and appearance of the tree, and it is for this reason many people prefer not to cut off any lower branches. However, cutting off the lower branches will make it easier to clean up underneath the tree. This should be done either in late winter or early spring.


If the leader of the tree gets broken or damaged, several leaders will begin to grow. Choose one leader and remove the remaining leaders. This leader will then grow and replace the broken or damaged leader, restoring the appearance of the tree.

Always work with sharp pruning tools so that your cuts are clean and not ragged.


Never trim branches that are close to electrical wires. Notify the electric company so that they can remove them.

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