Proper time of the year to trim Eastern White Pine

jon3333(5B)September 2, 2011

I live just outside Milwaukee, WI and I have 2 Eastern White Pines that were planted 5 years ago. They are now appox. 20' tall and doing great. However, I would like to start pruning up the lower branches (they go all the way to the ground) since they are getting fairly long (longer than the 6' diameter wood chipped ring). What month is a good to start pruning off the lower branches? Ideally I would like 5-6' of clearance from the ground for now.



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What sort of snow loads do you see up there?
Because I think doing this will weaken the remaining limbs ability to carry a lot of weight without breaking- they're sort of designed to all work together.

That said lots of people do it and the trees survive so maybe I'm wrong.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2011 at 3:31PM
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cearbhaill thanks for the response. I decided I would take a multi-year approach. I removed all branches (very small) that were on the bottom 2'. Then I thinned out the rest of the branches so not too much was removed too fast. On one of my trees, I noticed the root flare was not right on one side of the tree. It turns out that there were 2 girdling roots along that side. I decided I would remove the 2 roots (1" and .5" in diameter) now before they cause more issues in the future. This probably only represents maybe 10% of the root base so I would expect the tree to grow slower next year (maybe adding just 1' instead of 3') as it works on root growth.



    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 2:24PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

do me a favor.. take a look and report back.. how much did the leader grow this year.. 3 to 5 feet????

if so ... your 20 foot plant.. its going to be 40 feet inside 3 to 5 more years ...

these are forest trees.. wood production ... check out the link

if they are within about 50 feet of any structure.. or anything that can be harmed.. including your hated neighbor .. frankly .. they should go ....

when i moved into this house.. i had 6 similar pines surrounding a deck ... and i could have taken them down for free ... 5 years later.. after 2 ice storms .. and repeated winter damage .. i had to pay $1000 for them to be removed ...

i know you are proud of your babes.. but think long and hard.. about where these forest giants are going.. in the very near future ...

anyway ... a 20 foot tree is not concerned about canopy removal .. with its fully established.. aggressive root system.. if it were me.. i would simply prune them up as high as i wanted.. and watch that root system.. make the leader grow 5 feet next spring .... and while that is happening.. you can be sitting under the tree ...

if you love strobus .. there are many dwarf.. or slower growing strobus.. which can neatly fit in suburbia.. without them turning into 100 foot telephone poles in a 50 foot square backyard ... [now you will tell me these are at the cottage on your 100 .. darn facts always get in the way of a good story ]


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 9:06AM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

Yours will grow like weeds, limbing them up to 6 ft should not be a problem. I am with Ken, white pines are weak wooded self-pruning trees, might have a widow-maker up there during a storm. My large white pines have multiple forks, and break off branches irregularly, but they provide shade and their foliage is nice to look at. I have a 100 ft tree 40 ft away from the house, might cost me more than $2000 to remove it. For me it is time now to get an estimate to get them removed.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 10:00AM
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you guys sound like land developers, not tree lovers! I've know guys who would pay almost any amount to get a healthy fast-growing wP at their cottage, but can't, for whatever reason (deer, blister rust, soil etc) You guys have a happy problem!!!!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 10:22AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

hey cj ....

my point was about forest trees in suburbia.. not some remote z2 northern canadian [a presumption based on z2 info] cottage ...

i peeked at your members page .. who counted 5600 strobus seed ... and whats the status of that project???

i would appreciate an update in your own post.. no need to hijack this one..


    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 10:46AM
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bernd ny zone5(5)

Cj, land developer? you must be kidding, I live on a 1/2 acre lot in suburbia and have to watch out that the huge Eastern white pines do not hit my house or hurt me. 2-3 years ago we had an ice storm, and I cut large white pine branches for a while. White pine needles were 6 inch deep on my lawn. Bundling branches up at the side of the road I had a 16 ft long x 4 ft high wall of it, plus many paper bags. They are messy. Though I love my 55 or so dwarf conifers too.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 12:13PM
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