The Q&A Archives: Pruning Large Pine Trees

Question: We've just moved into a house that is surrounded by 7 various large (20 to 40 feet) pine trees. Two of the trees are located directly behind the rear deck and they are blocking the view to the 2 acre back yard. We don't want to remove the trees, but we'd like to cut the bottom 8 feet of limbs off. Can we do this without killing the trees? Can it be done now or should we wait until next spring? We'd like to do it as soon as possible.

Answer: You can prune the trees now. As a matter of fact it is better to prune trees during their dormant season which is the winter. Even evergreens have a dormant season in which they are not actively growing. Keep in mind two things. The first is pruning pine is a messy endeavor. The branches are very sappy and sticky. You will need to keep a jar of rubbing alcohol nearby to clean off your pruners quite often. This will unclog all the sticky sap that is going to accumulate on your pruners plus it prevents the spread of any diseases that may be lurking about. Second, keep in mind it may be a shock at first to see your pines with the bottom 8 feet cut out. You are in a difficult situation... I'm sure you don't want to cut the trees but you alsodon't want to miss out on your great view. Don't worry about harming the pines, chances are if they are that large and well established they will come through their grooming unscathed. One will have lots of greenery for holiday decorating...take advantage of it!

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