9 Reasons To Cut Down Your Pine Tree And When To Do It

Forest of green pine trees on mountainside with late afternoon sunlight

Pine trees can be great. They offer shade during hot days, look majestic as they tower overhead, and can provide privacy and protection from strong winds. Sometimes, though, they can be a pain and you may need to cut your pine tree down!

You may need to cut down your pine tree if it’s leaning too far in one direction, the tree is no longer healthy, it’s creating a big mess, or it took some damage from a storm and will end up coming down on its own. If you can wait to cut it down, you should get a better price in the Fall or Winter.

Though trees often hold sentimental value to homeowners, there are good reasons for removing them. Possibly because they have become a problem to property or people, but there could be other reasons as well. Keep reading as we go over all the reasons to cut down your pine tree!

Just to add – when you shop using links from Tree Journey, we may earn affiliate commissions if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Maybe Your Pine Tree Just Needs A Trim

Often, trees need to be pruned to stay healthy. Pruning can open up the tree to allow plenty of airflow through all the branches and reduce fungal afflictions. It can also allow sunlight to penetrate lower branches so the tree doesn’t grow too top-heavy. 

Proper pruning can also keep your trees living longer. For trees that aren’t too tall, and only need a bit of pruning, try out this Sun Joe 10-inch 8.0 Amp Electric Multi-Angle Pole Chain Saw. It is completely electric, so you won’t have to mix gas and oil, and the telescoping pole will help you reach higher branches.

For trees that require large limbs to be cut, if they are very tall, or if you don’t have much experience trimming trees yourself, consider calling a professional to tackle the big jobs.

Now, with that out of the way so you DON’T just go lop down that beautiful tree, let’s get to the good stuff.

If you do decide you need to go the pruning route, you should contact an arborist as well for large trees. Take a look at our guide on the best time to prune large trees if you fancy!

9 Reasons You Should Cut Down Your Pine Tree

Big pine on a glade on the background of mountains and blue sky.

Pine trees are fast-growing, magnificent trees, but they can become a nuisance or even a larger problem.

When these trees pose too much of a risk or become too expensive to maintain, you’ll need to have them removed by a professional tree service. Let’s get to it!

Your Pine Tree Is Too Close To Your House

Whether you planted the tree yourself when it was only a sapling, or you bought your house with a nearby pine tree, if it is too close, you should have the tree removed. You should plant trees no closer than 15 to 20 feet to a structure. Trees that can get very tall will need more distance from the house. 

The roots from pine trees aren’t considered invasive, so they shouldn’t cause foundation damage under normal circumstances. The problems that arise from pine trees that are too close to structures are limbs falling, pine needles getting everywhere, and trees falling onto the house.

If you have a sapling, then you might be able to transplant the tree, but once established, moving it becomes less feasible.

If you’re still thinking of cutting down your pine tree, you can take a look at our guide on what to do with pine wood here!

Remove A Pine Tree After Irreversible Storm Damage

Storms can severely damage a pine tree. Hail, ice, snow, lightning, and wind damage can cripple even the strongest of pine trees.

For instance, did you know that pine trees are one of the most likely trees to get struck by lightning?

They are a softer wood compared to most deciduous trees such as oaks, maples, and birches, so storms can damage pine trees fairly easily.

Ice and snow can become too much for the limbs to bear, causing them to break off, while powerful gusts of wind can snap trunks, or leave them structurally unsound. Whatever has caused the damage, after a heavy storm, inspect your pine trees to see if they need to be removed.

Trees that have damaged trunks or lost large limbs might have to be cut down because they lost the original structural integrity. After losing limbs, pine trees can become lopsided and end up falling.

Sometimes storm damage can leave a tree susceptible to insect damage and disease. When a tree cannot heal itself properly, it becomes a target for pests and fungus, which can weaken it further.

After your pine trees take storm damage, you might need to get an arborist out to inspect it thoroughly to see if it is healthy enough to survive or let you know the tree needs to come down. 

You May Have To Remove Your Pine Tree After Insects Or Fungus Have Settled In

Healthy pines can usually fight off most insect invaders with sap or other defense mechanisms. However, when a tree is stressed or unhealthy, it has trouble fighting afflictions and bugs. 

Stress on a tree can happen during times of drought, if the soil is severely lacking nutrients, or the tree isn’t getting enough sunlight.

Damage to the tree or improper trimming techniques can also cause an otherwise healthy tree to become weak and susceptible to illness and insect invasion. 

According to Purdue University, insects such as borers that attack vigorous, healthy pine trees can be repelled through a strong sap flow. Healthy trees have the energy to fight off afflictions these boring insects can bring as well.

Basically, pine trees that get ample sun, water, and nutrients can defend themselves very well, but if your tree already has issues it may be too late.

Bark beetles and borers can be identified by the small holes you might find around the main trunk and sometimes in larger branches. You might also see small piles of sawdust underneath the holes.

These insects dig into the tree, underneath the bark where the living tree tissue grows and there they tunnel through the tree and lay eggs.

The larvae then travel through the living tree tissue, eating it and disrupting the nutrient and water flow of the tree. When the damage is extensive enough, trees have trouble providing nourishment to the top of the tree.

Another indication of an insect invasion is woodpeckers. These birds eat insects such as bark beetles and borers, so if you find your pine trees are suddenly attracting a lot of these birds, you might have a bug problem.

A quick side bar, we just cut down 3 rotted pine trees in our backyard that were FILLED with woodpecker holes. The trees were already rotted, but the woodpeckers definitely had their way with it.

If you notice strange coloration in the pine needles or premature browning followed by more than normal needle drop, your tree may have fungus! Wilting needles even though the trees are getting plenty of water can be a sign of a larger issue.

Fungal issues in trees can generally be treated with fungicides, while others reside in the soil and can be extremely difficult to eradicate. Some fungicides are available through retail outlets that can treat some of these maladies, but you’ll have to know exactly what fungi are on your trees. To know for sure, you should always consult an arborist who can recommend the proper treatments.

When insect damage or fungal problems have become too expensive to treat, or you’ve fixed the problem but it’s come back, cutting the pine tree down may just be the best option at this point!

Your Pine Looks More Like The Leaning Tower Of “Tree-za”

Leaning pine on a cliff on the beach. Landscape with clear sunny weather.

Tall, top-heavy pine trees don’t have the same sturdy strength as oaks. When too much pressure is applied to pine tree trunks, they can snap and fall.

Most pine trees have long taproots that reach deep into the soil to anchor it and get nutrients. When something topples a pine tree, most times, the trunk breaks, leaving the roots still attached to the ground.

Trees that have a pronounced lean to them can be a threat to property and anything around them. Accumulating snow or ice can send them falling, or high gusts of wind can finish them off.

When a tree has become lopsided for some reason, or it is simply leaning too far, there’s not much that can be done to correct the problem. Sometimes corrective trimming can fix the lopsided tree, but a “leaner” will only continue to get worse until it ultimately falls.

Another problem some pine trees face is they get very top-heavy. As pine trees grow taller, their lower branches can weaken and fall off. This happens mainly because they stop getting enough sunlight to sustain them.

The top canopy of the tree continues to grow taller, leaving a long trunk that is susceptible to breaking. When your pine trees get very tall, or they take on a lean, you might need to have them taken down to prevent any unwanted falling trees.

Maybe You’re Tired Of Cleaning Up The Pine’s Mess

Pine trees can be messy. They drop needles year-round, especially during the fall, but there are also issues with pollen coating everything, pinecones you have to remove every time before you mow, and the constant barrage of small limbs and twigs.

If you have a pine tree anywhere near your house, you have probably had to either clean the gutters yourself or have hired someone to clean them out. Pine needles will clog gutters quickly, and they drop all year long, unlike most deciduous trees that drop their leaves during the fall.

Even if you have a type of leaf guard on your gutters, pine needles seem to find their way in. Obviously not as much as without them, but they are notorious for getting everywhere. Pine tree pollen can also accumulate around the leaf guards and will need to be wiped periodically for them to work most efficiently.

Aside from having to pick up pine cones and small branches before mowing, to keep any type of grass growing underneath a pine tree, you’ll have to manage all the needles that fall. Too many needles on the ground can choke off the grass and leave the area underneath the pine tree a barren wasteland.

If you’re completely exhausted because of the constant cleaning battle between you and the pine tree, it’s probably time to consider having those pine trees evicted from the property.

You Can’t Get Any Grass To Grow Under Your Pines

It can be difficult to grow grass under any type of tree, but there’s just something about a pine tree that increases that challenge to near impossible. The patch of brown needles and dirt that always accompanies the perimeter of your pine trees can mar a beautiful lawn.

Many people think grass can’t grow under pine trees because the needles raise the acidity of the soil, but that is a myth.

The University of New Hampshire busted the myth that pine trees make the soil acidic, they say; though it’s true soil near pine trees is often acidic, that’s because pine trees will grow better in acidic soil, but they do not create acidic soil themselves. Sometimes nothing will grow underneath a pine tree because of shallow roots, too much shade, and pine needles can quickly smother other plants.

Pine needles are slightly acidic, but when they break down, microorganisms neutralize the acid. That’s one reason pine mulch won’t lower the pH of the soil and is a good mulch option for trees and flowerbeds.

You can learn more about why trees sometimes prefer acidic soil here.

The main reason grass won’t grow under pine trees is because it doesn’t get enough sun and rain. Most grasses require plenty of sunlight and a lot of water to stay healthy. Pine tree canopies are often compact, very shady, and let very little water seep through when it rains.

The needles that drop also act as a natural mulch barrier to block out still more sunlight and choke off any chance for grass or weed seeds to take root.

Some pine trees also have shallow roots that can limit how much soil is available for plants to grow underneath them. Combine all these reasons, and you often get a miniature dust bowl underneath your pine trees.

Since pine trees love acidic soil, your soil might have a low pH, which limits nutrients for grasses and other plants. To give your grass a fighting chance, try a lime soil additive such as Jobe’s Additive De-Acidifier. This pelletized lime will help to neutralize the soil to give grass a fighting chance. 

If you’ve already tried over and over to plant grass or flowers underneath your pine tree but nothing takes, maybe it’s time to get it out of there. 

The Pine Tree Is Already On Its Way Out

Trees can live for hundreds of years, but like everything else, they only have so long before they kick the bucket. A tree that has ended its cycle can be a problematic thing. It dries out and becomes brittle, which can cause large chunks to fall, or send the entire tree falling. 

When you know the tree is no longer flourishing, have it removed before it can do any damage.

Rather, if your pine tree is just not growing, then that’s another issue entirely.

Your Pine Tree Costs Too Much To Maintain

Trees can certainly hold sentimental value. If your grandparents planted it, you remember growing up, playing around it, or you had a tire swing in it, a tree can hold a lot of memories.

For these reasons and more, you may want to do everything you can to save it. Afflictions and insects can sometimes be treated. Mild storm damage can be repaired. However, if the pine tree costs too much to keep alive, maybe it’s time to say goodbye to an old friend.

It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Although, you can look at it as an opportunity to replace the old, worn-out tree with another one, and start making new memories with a brand new tree. 

Have The Pine Tree Removed If It’s Too Close To Power Lines

Trees and power lines don’t mix, but they often come in contact with each other. Tree branches can put a strain on the electrical lines, or snap them when branches fall, so they are often cut back away to prevent this.

Sometimes new lines go in, and it’s the tree that suffers. Power companies will cut away the tree to make way for the new power lines, which often leaves the tree looking like they butchered it. While some trees can recover from aggressive trimming, most times they are left in a weakened state.

Trees can also become electrified if they come in contact with exposed electrical lines. Tree branches can wear away the insulated coating around the wires, and when this happens, the tree can carry a current.

When trees and power lines combine, the best thing to do is have the tree removed. Call a professional tree service to manage this task, because they will probably have to contact the electric company to have the power turned off for safety, while they cut it.

You can also try to get the power company to pay for this venture as its been known to happen!

When Is The Best Time To Cut Down Your Pine Tree?

Felling big coniferous pine tree logs at forest landscape.

If your pine tree poses a threat to health and safety, then it should be professionally removed as soon as possible. If the tree has sustained storm damage, if it’s leaning over too far, or has lost its structural integrity, don’t wait to have it cut down.

When the tree is fairly healthy, and it doesn’t appear to be ready to topple at any given moment, then you can wait for a good deal from a professional tree company.

There’s a busy season and a slow season for the tree removal business. During the warm months, and especially after some heavy storms have rolled through, you’ll probably end up paying more for your tree removal. But if it’s safe to wait a little while, call them up during the late fall and winter months.

When business is slow, you can probably find coupons or specials that can save you money. They need the business to keep everyone working and paid so you could find some good deals if you ask!

This Is All Wrapped Up!

Pine trees are grand to have around your property. They can make your landscape look inviting and aesthetically pleasing, remove carbon dioxide from the air, and they can offer shade or a buffer to heavy winds. 

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s better to have them removed. If they are constantly battling insect invasion or fungal issues, they should be taken down. Trees that are too close to your house, other structures, or too near power lines might have to be cut down as well. 

Pine trees that are leaning, have storm damage, or are no longer living should be removed as well.

Whenever you have a tree removed from your yard, consider replacing it with another tree. You can always find smaller trees that don’t get as tall or maybe replace them with ornamental trees that have beautiful, striking features.

Best of luck with your pine!

References

Vicente, Cláudia SL, et al. “Insights into the role of fungi in pine wilt disease.” Journal of Fungi 7.9 (2021): 780.

Boyd, I. L., et al. “The consequence of tree pests and diseases for ecosystem services.” Science 342.6160 (2013): 1235773.

Cheyney, E. G. “The roots of a jack pine tree.” Journal of Forestry 30.8 (1932): 929-932.

Yang, Jae E., et al. “Soil nutrient bioavailability and nutrient content of pine trees (Pinus thunbergii) in areas impacted by acid deposition in Korea.” Environmental monitoring and Assessment 157.1 (2009): 43-50.

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