Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Prune Pine Trees

Pine trees need to be pruned in the springtime and should not be pruned halfway down but all the way back to the trunk to prevent the loss of middle inner needles. Keep pine trees healthy with proper pruning advice from a gardening specialist in this free video on trees.


Hi, I'm Jessica Smith and I work for Blands Nursery in West Jordan, Utah, and today we're talking all about trees and shrubs. Right now we're going to discuss how to prune a pine tree. Well a pine tree is maybe a little different than all types of evergreens on your pruning practices. A lot of evergreens won't re-sprout off of older wood, so you need to be careful when you prune and how you prune. You can't get in and start just pruning whatever you want because then it may become woody itself and will never re-sprout and you have this big, open, bare spot that looks like just dead, dying wood. Now a pine is identified with, usually it has a longer needle and in this, in this needle cluster there's anywhere from two to three to five right here in this cluster. And those needles group together, and it has this little papery sheath there at the end. That's a pine tree. Spruce trees, fir trees, other types of evergreens are a little bit different even though you're pruning practices are fairly similar. Now pine trees, they need to be pruned in the Springtime, and if you're thinning out, make sure you take the branch all the way back to the trunk itself. Don't prune it halfway down, because otherwise it's going to lose these middle inner needles. This is a growing process that evergreens have. They don't, they aren't going to keep these needles forever. To produce new ones on the outer edge, they'll actually lose their older ones. When you're going to prune in the Spring, it's best to actually, if you're trying to control the size or make it to fill out a little bit more, you can actually prune off some of this candle growth. Now this candle growth, it's all stuck together in the Springtime and then shoots out. You can actually take a half to two thirds off just by pinching it off while the needles are still somewhat gathered together. Once they unfold and they become hard about mid summer or so, it's too late. You don't want to do it at that point. Wait until the next Spring for that new candle growth to come out. You don't need any kind of compound, pruning compound to put on the tree. It has a natural defense in there to actually seal that cut as long as it's made properly. This right here is your candle growth for next year. This will all, this will push out in the Spring when it comes out of your dormancy time and this is where that new candle's going to come from. That's your new growth. So make sure you don't take those off later on in the Summer time. Don't prune in the Summer time unless something needs to come off. Sometimes on pine trees, lower branches will die. This is normal. You'll want to make sure you always take those off.