If you have several pine trees growing on your property, you may love the way they give bursts of green color to your landscape even during the winter months. However, you may have noticed that they are starting to grow in a direction you do not want them to or that they are looking a little thin. Because of this, you may be trying to figure out how to trim them so you can shape them without damaging the trees. If so, use the following tips to trim the pine trees on your property.
1. Trim Your Pine Trees at the Right Time
Because your pine trees stay green all year, you may believe that any time is a good time to trim them. After all, since they are green, they must be continuously growing, so it should not matter when you cut them, right?
Even though pine trees are evergreens, they still have cycles of growth that can affect their ability to bounce back after being trimmed. For example, when you trim back deciduous trees, such as maples or oak, it is safe to do so in late fall or early spring. However, if you were to do this to pine trees, which are still active during these times, you may end up killing them.
The ideal time to trim pine trees is in early June into early July. During this time, they are just starting to sprout new growth, which you can take advantage of to help shape the trees. Plus, the extra nutrients and water they receive during these months can help them recuperate from light trimming or pruning.
2. Pinch off the "Candles" Instead of Cutting Them
As part of their growth pattern, pine trees tend to produce new growth toward the ends of their branches. These off-shoots look like candles that are set inside old-timey candle holders, thus giving them the name of "candles."
While having plenty of candles is a sign that the trees are healthy, they can lead to straggly growth patterns once they start to spread out. Fortunately, you can control some of the patterns by removing these candles as they are sprouting. However, when you do remove them, do not cut into them with shears or scissors. If you do so, you risk clipping the new needles, which can affect the trees' ability to absorb sunlight, moisture, and nutrients.
Instead, pinch them off with your fingers. You do not want to remove all of the candles, however, as this could set the growth of your trees back. Instead, remove them only in areas where you want to see fuller growth.
3. Cut Branches Back to the Collars Instead of the Center
If you have a few branches on your pine trees that have either died or are growing in a bad direction, such as toward your house or shed, you can cut them off. However, you need to be mindful of where you cut them.
If you simply cut them in the center or even close to the tree, the tree may bleed too much sap and wind up killing the rest of the branch. Instead, cut the branch all the way back to where it attaches to the trunk. When you cut the branch all of the way to this area, called the collar, you will do less damage to the tree itself since it will not have to continue feeding a dying branch.
Using the above tips while trimming and pruning your pine trees can help you control their growth pattern without causing too much damage. However, if you are uncomfortable or unable to do the job yourself, contact a tree trimming service to discuss your options for having them do the job for you.