Hello and thank you for taking my question. Last year I purchased a home in...

Asked April 4, 2017, 11:04 AM EDT

Hello and thank you for taking my question. Last year I purchased a home in East Palestine Ohio. There are three pine trees in the back yard. They are fairly large about 30feet tall. Where the limbs touch they seem to have died and the dead limbs seem to be spreading. I plan to remove the center tree. My question is since about half the limbs of the two remaining trees are dead will they come back or should I cut them down too and start new? Thank you. Chuck

Columbiana County Ohio pine trees

1 Response

Hi. Most conifers are only able to grow new needles from the tip of the branch (or near the tip). This includes true pines as well as similar-looking trees such as spruces and firs. Therefore, yes, if you have one of those trees, and they have lost needles on half of their branches and no longer have any landscape appeal or utility, your only option is removal. Note that some regrowth is possible in other types of conifers, such as hemlocks and arborvitae, so I suggest you make certain your trees are identified correctly. (If you aren’t sure, send a photo and I or someone else can help you out.) I also recommend you read this PDF from the U. of Wisconsin on pruning conifers; it does a good job of describing which ones can regrow and which cannot. If you do remove the trees, I suggest you also try to determine the cause of the dieback before planting another tree of the same type, as you do not want to repeat the same mistake. If this is simply a case of planting trees too closely so that they are shading out one another (which sounds plausible based on your description), then that is a fairly easy remedy as long as the trees seem to be doing well in other respects.