We have some evergreen trees bordering the back of our yard that hang over into the neighbor’s yard. He is complaining of the pine needles and has hired someone to cut all the branches at his property line all the way up. Will this cause the trees any harm? I’m not sure what type of trees they are. They are at least 30′ tall or better. Unfortunately a couple of the trees were planted too close to the fence so some branches may be cut just a few feet from the trunk. Would this cause the tree to become unbalanced?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Vicki: This is a great example of why we have to make informed planting choices. Not to say that you did not since it sounds like you inherited these evergreens, but now it is a problem for both you and your neighbor. Severely pruning the trees back on one side will cause intense stress on them and can have many negative consequences. The most noticeable but least concerning would be the aesthetics of the trees after they are pruned. They will be much more susceptible to wind and storm damage as one side will be much heavier than the other, making them unbalanced to begin with. They will also be more prone to sun scald and as a result cankers and other diseases can form. As a general rule, needled evergreens do not put on new growth after they are pruned, so once the limbs are removed there is no recovery in terms of new growth. In the interest of saving your trees, you might consider having a certified arborist come out and talk to both you and your neighbor. You can contact your County Cooperative Extension Office for local recommendations. Pine needles are great for mulch: you might offer to rake them up in order to save your trees.