Conifers are a wonderful asset on nearly any property, providing shade, breezes, and beauty. Sometimes, however, they can get large and unruly, prompting owners to look for ways to control their growth. In this article, we’ll discuss whether you can manage the height of your pine tree, along with other helpful pruning tips.
What You'll Learn Today
How Tall Can a Pine Tree Grow?
The average height of a pine tree can vary wildly among different species. And while each species has an average range, it’s possible for some pine trees to significantly exceed the maximum height.
Other factors that affect the height of mature pine trees include climate, the amount of sun it’s exposed to, and the soil it’s planted in. With those variables in mind, here are some common pine species and their average maximum heights:
- Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris): 130 feet
- Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda): 60 to 90 feet tall
- Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa):100 feet tall
- Black Pine (Pinus nigra): 60 feet tall
- Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus): 150 feet tall
- Mugo Pine (Pinus mugo): 20 feet
- Sugar Pine (Pinus lambertiana): 195 feet tall
- Chir Pine (Pinus roxburghii): 180 feet tall
Can I Cut the Top off of a Pine Tree?
Although many plants can be successfully pruned by cutting off the top, this is not recommended for pine trees. Doing so can ruin the natural form of the tree, and invite a host of diseases and other issues.
Whenever you make a cut on a tree, it results in a wound, which is an ideal spot for pests and fungal pathogens to attack. Furthermore, it can weaken the structure of the tree, making it more likely to drop branches prematurely – inviting yet more health issues.
How Do You Reduce the Height of a Pine Tree?
Since you aren’t able to cut the top off of your pine tree, you’re left with limited options if you feel that it’s too tall. You will need to live with it at its current height, or cut the tree down.
Although this isn’t ideal, there are times when it may be necessary. If your tree has an untreatable disease, is dying for unknown reasons, or has suffered structural damage, the safest option is to remove it as soon as possible.
Pine trees are also a hazard if they are growing too close to a building or power line. When this happens, you should call a professional tree service to assist.
Sometimes it’s best to remove the tree rather than risk damage to nearby structures, but other times it’s possible to prune and save the tree. This process can be dangerous, however, and therefore requires the work of a professional.
If your tree needs to be removed, yet you have your heart set on a pine in the same area, you’re not out of luck. There are several dwarf conifer varieties that let you enjoy all of the perks of a full-sized pine, without the extreme height.
How To Make a Pine Tree Bushy?
If you are unhappy with the aesthetic of your tall pine, you may be able to alter its growth pattern to suit your preferences.
Although you can’t make it shorter, you may be able to train the branches to be more full. This method is better suited for small, young trees that are still growing vigorously.
The process of pruning young pines for more compact growth is called “pinching”. To do this, use your fingers to break off one-third of new growing tips. Using pruning shears typically results in cutting the remaining needles, which will make the tips of the branches turn brown.
Pinching should be done in the spring when the young needles are in the “candle” stage (growing in a tight cluster). Over time, pinching off some of the new growth should encourage the tree to grow denser and fuller.
It’s important to be selective with your pruning, since pine trees produce such a small amount of side buds. If you aren’t careful and end up removing the terminal bud on a branch, there will be no more new growth on that shoot.
For more tips on pruning pine trees, watch this video:
A towering, healthy pine tree should only be removed in extreme circumstances, like when it poses a safety threat to the property. In most cases, it’s easiest to adapt to the tree’s growth, rather than the other way around.