Pruning a Dogwood

tryingtogetbyOctober 19, 2010

Hi,

We have an overgrown dogwood in the front of our garage. Great tree and it's in a perfect spot, but I really have to tame it. I hacked away at it last year, but each year it grows the 'broccoli heads' at the top while the rest of the tree is somewhat thin. How far down can I cut the branches and when is the best time to do so? Any suggestions on how to attack?

Thank you for your help.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

but each year it grows the 'broccoli heads' at the top while the rest of the tree is somewhat thin.

Normal reaction to improper pruning.

How far down can I cut the branches and when is the best time to do so?

To the trunk at branch bark ridge. When dormant.

Any suggestions on how to attack?

Sounds like going to the library and checking out a book on pruning first.

Dan

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 2:16PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I can't make much out from the picture, but it sounds like you've been pruning by heading back the branches like you would with certain herbaceous plants to make them fuller. This should never be done with most trees. The preferred method is to remove unwanted branches back to their base (scaffold branch or trunk). In some cases, reduction/drop-crotch pruning can be used. That's where a branch is cut back to a side branch or bud (in the case of very small branches). There are quite a few good guides to pruning online. You may want to start off with the International Society of Arboriculture's www.treesaregood.com site. I have linked one of the relevant pages below. You might find other by googling tree pruning or even some of the pruning technique terms above.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pruning Mature Trees

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 8:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
tryingtogetby

Thanks for your thoughts Dan and Brandon.
In the past, I've just cut back to the larger branch (off the trunk) and over time several small branches have developed from the cut area. Obviously the wrong approach. I'd like to reduce this tree quite a bit, but am concerned that the interior area is so thin now that trimming way down would leave me with a trunk and five branches and nothing else. Is my goal even achievable at this point?
Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2010 at 9:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bushhog936(E. TX -Zone 8B)

Looks ruined to me, I'd cut it down to the ground and let it coppice back to a giant shrub.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2010 at 9:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gardengal48

What you describe is very common for dogwoods and the primary reason I suggest keeping pruning them to a minimum. They respond to most pruning cuts (even those done correctly back to the branch collar at the right time of year) by producing numerous and prodigious sprouts, resulting in an almost a Medusa-like appearance or the so-called "broccoli heads".

My advice on pruning dogwoods is simple - don't! If the tree is too large for that location, remove it and replant with something more size suitable. I can't see clearly in the photo if the tree's growth is interfering with the garage (or the garage interfering with the tree) but it sure doesn't look like it requires any "taming" to me. It tends to be one of my pet peeves but I sincerely believe too many homeowners are entranced with pruning and do so excessively and unnecessarily........site the plant properly and let it be unless any of the 3 D's raise their heads.

Just my opinion......:-)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 9:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

I avoided planting Cornus for my clients for the very reason GG describes.

Dan

    Bookmark   October 23, 2010 at 10:33AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Girdled Tap Root?? What to do??
Sorry if this is wordy, the tree experts might be able...
pricklypearsatx
500 ft Privacy Fence/Screen trees advise
I have a very large property line that I would like...
zrodimel
2015 Midatlantic/SE/New England winter damage thread
I don't mean to exclude the midwest but I think for...
davidrt28 (zone 7)
Japanese snowbell - anyone with experience growing in zone 5?
I'm looking for a tree for our front yard. Japanese...
mattow42
where to prune these maples?
ugh what happened to GW?? anywho - need some advice...
skyjumper
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™