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How to Trim a Pine Tree that is Too Tall [5 Tall Tree Trimming Tips]

When trimming a tall pine, it is essential that you never cut off the pointed top or “crown” of the tree. This will either result in tree death or in deformed and sickly growth. A pine that is too tall and imposes a risk to property or power lines should be removed completely. Replace tall pines with dwarf pine varieties or other evergreens that won’t reach such immense heights.

How to trim a pine tree that is too tall

What Happens if You Cut the Top Off a Pine Tree?

Never cut the top portion off a pine. A pine tree that has its top portion removed will grow in a very ragged manner and be extremely susceptible to disease and insect infestation. The tree will not produce a new top “cone.” Instead, branches may curve upwards and deform. More likely, a healthy tree that has been “topped” will struggle to heal the open wound at the top. It’s liable to attract burrowing insects, tree diseases, and be stricken by sun-scald.

  • Do not remove the top portion of a pine tree.
  • Removing the top of a pine tree significantly raises the chances of tree disease and death.
  • Many pine trees that are topped sicken and die, necessitating tree removal.
  • A pine that has had its top removed will not recover and produce a new top. The damage is permanent.
  • A pine tree with its top removed will grow in an unsightly manner, if at all.
  • The needle growth in the crown of the tree is essential to continued life. The top of a pine is the heart of the tree.

Most of the energy and vitality is in the upper branches of your pine. By removing this, you’re destroying the most essential part of the tree. Pines are designed to grow tall and straight, and some varieties grow up to 200 feet tall (60 meters), so they make very poor shrubs. Trying to control the height of a pine tree is a recipe for disaster.

What Do You Do if a Pine Tree is Too Tall?

If a pine tree is too tall for your liking, there are two options: remove the tree or live with it. In cases where a tall pine is interfering with power lines or causing serious damage to your home, removal of the tree is the best option. If you don’t like the shade cast by the pine or are frustrated by the number of needles it drops, decide if removing it is worth the cost and effort.

  • Pine trees that pose a threat to buildings and power lines must be removed.
  • Pine trees that you dislike for cosmetic reasons should be removed rather than topped.

Removing a large pine can create a new host of problems. Consider what your yard will look like without its privacy screen and shade. If you need to remove a tree that is growing close to your house, remember to take the proper precautions to protect yourself and your family.

Use Dwarf Pines as a Replacement

Removing a tall pine can leave a blank space in your yard. Although you may not want to replace the tree with another plant of equivalent size, consider taking the time to plant a small spruce or dwarf pine instead. Visit a local tree nursery or speak with a professional arborist regarding varieties that grow well in your region and will not grow into a tall tree.

  • Replace large pines with dwarf pines or spruces if you prefer a small evergreen look.
  • Dwarf Blue Spruce, Chalet Swiss Stone Pine, and the Dwarf Japanese Black Pine are species of evergreen tree that stop growing at 4–8 feet tall (1.2–2.4 meters).

If you plant a dwarf evergreen, you won’t have to worry about tree pruning. You will be able to keep your tree healthy and maintain the evergreen pyramidal shape without any trouble. These trees are bred to stay small in size.

5 Best Methods for Trimming a Tall Pine Tree

If you wish to trim a tall pine tree without killing it, it’s essential to understand the tree you are dealing with. Pines are meant to grow tall and straight, and their growth can be slowed with careful trimming, but not stopped. Remember, pine tree branches will not grow back once they are removed, so trim gradually until you get the desired look.

Secure Your Ladder

When trimming a tall pine, use a tripod ladder that doesn’t require support, or secure your extension ladder to the tree. To make your ladder secure, lean the top against a sturdy branch that you will not be removing. Consider tying the ladder to the branch to prevent slippage. This will keep you safe while pruning your tall pine.

Clear the Area Below

If you are removing large branches, make sure that the area in the fall path of the branches is free of people, pets, vehicles, and any belongings that may be damaged by falling branches. Even though we will be controlling the fall of large branches, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Control Branches as They Fall

Tie a rope securely to any large branch you are cutting off your pine. Then, run the rope over a sturdy higher branch and tie the loose end to another tree or solid post at ground level. This simple pulley system will keep the branch from dropping onto the ground, your roof, or your fence. After the branch is cut and hanging from the rope, work with a partner to slowly lower the branch down to the ground.

Do Not Remove the Pine Leader

As stated early, do not cut off the top or crown of the tree. Doing so removes the “leader,” which is the vertical point of the pine (the place where a tree topper is placed during the holidays). Removing this leader leads to possible disease and unnatural growth. The exception is in cases where pines have two competing leaders. You can remove one of these. It’s advisable to leave the leader on the northernmost side, but at least one leader must remain on the tree. This avoids practicing harmful tree topping of your pine.

Trim Candles in Spring to Reduce Growth

If you want to reduce the growth and spread of your pine tree, you can accomplish this by trimming the “candles” that appear in spring. A pine’s candles are the brownish twiglike structures that are visible in spring and will spread into a mass of new needles. Once the candles are present, remove one-third to one-half of their length with pruning shears. This will slow the growth of your pine tree. You can perform this on the candle on the pine tree leader to reduce the rate at which the tree grows upward.

How Do You Stop a Pine Tree From Growing Taller?

There is no way to stop a pine tree from growing taller without causing significant harm to the tree. Removing the top portion of a pine robs it of its most important foliage and invites disease. Although you can trim the “candles” of the branches at the top of the tree in spring, this will only cut the rate of the pine tree’s growth in half. It will still continue to surge upwards. If your pine tree is too tall, consider removal. Stopping or removing upper growth is not advisable in evergreens.

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