Planting Pine Trees

Most pines grow best in full sun, but the soft wooded pines tolerate light shade better than hard pines do. While all pines prefer soil that drains well, many can handle poorer soil. For best performance it should be fairly acidic (pH 4.5 to 6.5). Plant pines at least 50 feet away from the street or sidewalk to avoid salt damage in the winter. Avoid planting them wherever the soil becomes waterlogged after rain or snow, since they do not tolerate flooding. They won’t do well in a lawn either, as they are susceptible to the growth inhibiting substances released into the soil by the roots of lawn grass. Consider using groundcover plants such as pachysandra or ivy instead of grass under pine trees. A southern exposure with no protection from late winter sun browns the needles as do dry winter winds. Research suggests that many pines vary with climatic conditions in various regions, so it is best to purchase nursery stock that you are sure is adapted to local conditions.

Staking Pines - Because of their small rootballs and the density of their evergreen needles white pines have a “sail factor.” Their mass provides resistance to wind, just as a sail on a boat does, so they are vulnerable to blowing over when newly planted. Where prevailing winds are a potential problem, stake newly planted pine trees for up to a year. Drive three posts into the ground around the young tree. Make them equidistant from each other out about 4 feet from the trunk, or just beyond the dripline. Loop soft cables of clothesline, or commercial staking material around the tree trunk and attach each one to a post. Allow some flex in the cables so that the tree trunk can move a bit to gain strength. Periodically check to be sure the cables are not rubbing the tree bark. Remove the supports within a year when the tree seems to be established.

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