Return to the Trees Forum | Post a Follow-Up

Pruning a Dogwood

Posted by tryingtogetby (My Page) on
Tue, Oct 19, 10 at 14:01

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.

Dogwood 1

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Pruning a Dogwood

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.


RE: Pruning a Dogwood

  • Posted by brandon7 6b (like 7b now) TN (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 19, 10 at 20:10

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 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

RE: Pruning a Dogwood

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?

RE: Pruning a Dogwood

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

RE: Pruning a Dogwood

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 the plant properly and let it be unless any of the 3 D's raise their heads.

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

RE: Pruning a Dogwood

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


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Trees Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here