Trim off lower branches on Pine Trees? Pros and Cons?

oldryderDecember 11, 2012

I have about 3 dozen pine trees in front of my house. Trees are roughly 14 years old and are 20 - 40' tall.

I have considered cutting off the branches up to about 6' many times.

Looking for input on pros and cons for this.

Also, per previous reading I believe winter is recommended as the best time of year for the trimming. is this correct?

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scotjute

Its commonly done down south all the time, not just with pines. Its done naturally in the woods from limbs dying and falling off. Naturally in pastures from cattle eating folliage back. Winter should be a good time to prune. Amount trimmed off should not exceed 25% of total foliage, 10-15% is a better target, but not always attainable.

The pro's for doing this : easier access under trees, improved access for mowing, frees up view, makes trees more fire resistant, allows improved ventilation.

The con's : lose view blocking foliage, lose windbreak effectiveness.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 11:03AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hi

'limbing up' trees .. in this case conifers ... is to your whim ...

the only caveat is proper trimming practice.. meaning no stubs.. but leave the branch collar ...

there may be some bug issues.. and will defer to +om about such ... and it might matter what kind of pine ....

now suck it up.. and go teach them a lesson ... they wont care.. as they have no feelings...

ken

    Bookmark   December 11, 2012 at 12:46PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Well I disagree that it is okay to limb up conifers to your whim. My neighbor has limbed up all the spruces and firs on his lot to a ridiculous extent, something like 15+ feet. Not only does it look incredibly ugly, but in the past 5 years, two of them have toppled because they have become so top heavy. The most recent one uprooted in Tropical Storm Sandy.

Pines on the other hand seem to have a natural habit of dropping their lower branches as they age, so it doesn't seem to be as damaging to these species.

I personally would not remove many lower branches for a couple reasons - 1) Privacy and 2) Once all the lower foliage is removed, IMO it looks bare and weird looking. The trunks look like a bunch of jail cell bars. And then what do you do? It's difficult to grow stuff under the canopy of larger pines. I have to laugh when people limb up a patch of pines, rake out all the pine needles, and try to grow grass (!).

Perhaps consider the option of thinning or removing some of the trees?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 2:27AM
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jimbobfeeny(5a IN)

I actually like White pines limbed up to 8 feet or so - In the wild, they tend to shed their lower branches. I like the look of tall, wispy pines with few lower branches - I also leave the carpet of needles.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 7:36AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Not only does it look incredibly ugly, but in the past 5 years, two of them have toppled because they have become so top heavy. The most recent one uprooted in Tropical Storm Sandy.

===>>> apparently terrenes whim.. is not her neighbors whim .... lol ... all the power to both of them ...

but to suggest they fell over.. due to a HURRICANE.. because they were trimmed up .. might be a bit of a stretch ...

if you think of a tree canopy.. as a sail on a sail boat ... removal of such.. should remove some wind resistance ... and the bottom is usually the greatest size.. surface volume-wise ..

regardless.. they are your trees.. in your garden.. and your way.. whatever strikes you ... is OK with me ...

when i am offered such a decision ... i usually find the most hidden one ... and give it a go ... and if i do NOT like the end product.. well.. i skip the rest ..

if i really dont like it.. i apply the chainsaw at ground level.. and summarily end its life.. lol ..

and if i do like it.. i continue with the project ... to MY whim ..

ken

    Bookmark   December 12, 2012 at 8:13AM
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wisconsitom

Oldryder, I see no reason why you should not raise your pines up to the 6 ft. level as you wish. I like pines both when treated this way and when not. As many have mentioned, in the closer spacing of the forest setting, they shed these lower limbs anyway.

There is one very good reason to remove lower limbs on pines and other conifers....if they are being grown for timber. By removing the lower limbs, the value of that trunk for eventual saw log use is heightened considerably. Less knots in the finished product. But that of course is not what you're after, it seems. In any case, prune away, and any time other than spring bud break will be fine. I like doing such tasks when it's not hot, if
I have the choice.

+oM

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 4:33PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Could you define pine? Many folks use the term for any needled tree.

My whim is that it is ok to limb up pines on occasion.
Not so nice to limb up firs, hemlocks or spruce.

tj

    Bookmark   December 18, 2012 at 5:43PM
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