The Q&A Archives: Thin Pine Trees

Question: What can be done with pine trees that have grown a tall leader with no side brances on the leader? The trees are too close together and I am willing to chop some down if that is the best thing to do.

Answer: Relatively young pines of many species start out by growing upright at first, then filling in with maturity. It's natural. This habit is exaggerated, of course, by close planting. Removing every other tree -- or two out of every three, or three out of four...etc., depending on the ultimate width expected from the species -- will encourage more lateral (horizontal) growth.

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