When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

How To Trim A Pine Tree Without Killing It

Pine trees are very sturdy growths that rarely need to be excessively trimmed.

However, they will occasionally need a little work to keep themselves strong and protected from various health issues.

Thankfully, it should be pretty easy to trim or prune your pine tree without killing it.

Try to avoid trimming your tree during the winter because you may end up impacting its growth and development.

That said, you can otherwise prune or cut your tree whenever you want, though it is usually pest to do so in early spring or late in winter when it starts warming up a little.

pine trim 4

Step One: Gather Your Tools

Before you start pruning or trimming your pine trees, it is essential to gather several tools.

These items will help to make this process smoother and eliminate any complexity that you may otherwise experience.

Just as importantly, these items can be transitioned to general home use for other types of projects.

These tools and protective items include:

  • A sheer or long-reach pole saw that you know how to operate
  • Hedge trimmers for handling more specialized cutting
  • Lopping tools explicitly used for thicker branches
  • Antiseptic household cleaners to avoid serious infections
  • Protective gloves to avoid hurting your hands as you work
  • Goggles to prevent getting poked in the eye
  • Strong shoes that will avoid severe cuts and pokes
  • Overcoat that helps to protect against other types of impact damage

All of these items are beneficial to have around your home because they typically provide many other benefits.

For example, you can keep your pine trees strong and healthy for years if you use these tools when needed.

And items like gloves and goggles are a great way to prevent injuries in other situations, such as doing different yard work types and needing further protection.

Step Two: Start By Getting Rid of Suckers at the Base

Pine trees often suffer from a high volume of suckers at the base of the trunk.

If you’re unfamiliar with this term, it refers to thin and upright branches that often grow if your tree suffers from various types of stress, typically in more urban environments.

They are designed to help the tree’s lineage continue if it dies.

However, they suck up a lot of energy from your tree (hence their name).

Find these growths and cut them off as close to the base of the trunk as you can get.

Depending on your tree, you may have just a few to worry about or many that must be carefully removed.

If your tree continues to make suckers, it is crucial to reach out to a tree doctor to learn more about what is happening.

Otherwise, you may let diseases and other health conditions affect your tree’s health.

Step Three: Cut Away Overgrown Branches

pine trim 3

After you remove the suckers from the base of your tree, it is vital to look for any overgrown branches that you want to be removed.

Typically, these branches are healthy but a little too thick and may be ugly or potentially dangerous if they crack.

Follow these steps to minimize the potential of tree death:

  • Cut away only the overgrown areas, paying attention to cut close to the base
  • Trim away areas that are ugly or unappealing, particularly dead branches
  • Try to leave any support areas that seem important
  • Remove branches entirely if they are dead or dying
  • Get rid of any heavy limbs that may be over your home or parking areas

Use whatever tools you need to perform these steps, and you should restore your branches to a more handsome appearance.

Typically, it is best to take a “more is less” approach to this situation.

Only get rid of as few branches as you can to improve your tree’s appearance.

However, it would help if you always cut away dead or dying limbs because they may have a disease that could spread to the rest of the tree.

Step Four: Check for Other Dead or Dying Branches

Ensure that you spend a little time looking for dead or dying branches and removing them to avoid severe long-term damage.

Signs of wear include:

  • Brown or miscolored leafs
  • Bark falling off your tree
  • Open wounds in the bark
  • Cracking sounds when manipulating the branch

Cut away these areas carefully, using the proper tools and safety gear.

Doing so helps to get rid of potentially dangerous or diseased branches.

Step Five: Other Steps to Take

pine trim 1

Beyond these simple steps, there are a handful of others that you can take to keep your pine tree healthy.

These won’t kill your pine but do get rid of excessive branches or limbs.

They also help to eliminate the potential for diseases and other long-term health conditions.

Just a few of these simple operative processes include how you can:

  • Remove all damaged branches or those with apparent damage
  • Spot branches or limbs with disease and cut them away
  • Take out overlapping branches that rub together in any place
  • Trim any excessive hedge growth around your pine tree

Typically, you want to avoid doing things like cutting off the top of the tree because you limit its growth and reproductive abilities and can cause it to slowly die by introducing it to more insects and diseases.

Crowning is somewhat controversial in this way but can be done correctly if you’re careful.

That said, it is probably best to either have an expert handle it or just avoid it entirely.

Do You Need Expert Help? Probably Not 

pine trees

If you feel uncertain about your ability to trim a pine tree without causing death, you may want to hire a professional to help you.

They can handle many of these steps and even show you signs of damage and decay that you can use for your trimming or pruning needs.

You can then transition to handling these steps without expert help.

It all depends on how well you learn these techniques and how comfortable you feel when no professionals help you.