Dogwood Trimming

Discussion in 'Turf Renovation' started by 1998tahoe, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. 1998tahoe

    1998tahoe LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    A customer is wanting their Dogwood tree trimmed around the bottom. Their last lawn guy done NO TRIMMING. So there are branches 3 or 4 inches from the ground. I want to make it look like a tree again instead of a bush but when can I trim it now or Spring?????? I do not want to kill it.

    Thank You.
  2. RAlmaroad

    RAlmaroad LawnSite Silver Member
    from SC
    Messages: 2,245

    What are the sizes of the trees and their lower limbs? I'm over in Kingsport, east of y'all. OK--All trees have from largest to smallest: trunks, limbs, branches, and twigs. After the tree drops its leaves and the sap does down would be the best time to prune. Dogwoods are setting their flowers now for next year. After the red berries have dropped late in the year would be better. Pruning stimulates growth. You could prune about Dec for the large limbs and paint the collar. The collar is where the limbs merge with the trunk of the tree. If it is a huge limb, cut it way out on the limb then trim it again at the collar. Visually you would step back, look and then make a cut even with the trunk so the tree can heal--this is for huge limbs and I have never seen a dogwood with those. Another good tip is to trim out the middle twig of the branch so that you would only have two twigs rather than three (3). Spring pruning will flush the tree as the sap begins to rise and it will flower about April here.
    Hope this will aid a little.
  3. 1998tahoe

    1998tahoe LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    The limbs are small. The trunk is no more than 4-5 inches through. The tree has been set out since I think fall of 05 or spring of 06. So you would wait till Dec to trim?? What do I need to get to seal where I cut???
  4. jeffinsgf

    jeffinsgf LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    Trim anytime after the leaves fall. Don't worry about sealer. Most arborists advise against it. Don't try to trim too close to the trunk. On a trunk the size you're talking about, with small branches, trim the branch about 1/4 to 1/2 inch away from the trunk. The "stub" will heal better and faster than if you try to cut too close to the trunk. Up to an inch in diameter, I think a good pair of anvil style loppers are your best tool. Over an inch, use a saw (hand or chain). The other poster's two cut method is a good idea for any limb that is so heavy that it will fall and tear bark as the cut nears completion. Those strips of torn bark are a sure sign of an inexperienced tree trimmer. On heavy limbs, start with an undercut a foot or so out on the limb. Then a top cut that meets the undercut to remove the limb. Then cut the stub off as mentioned above.
  5. Michael J. Donovan

    Michael J. Donovan Head Moderator, Online Communities Staff Member
    Messages: 3,848

    you may also want to check out our sister site - - and ask some of the professionals on there as well.

    thanks, have a good one :waving:
  6. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    I'll back up everything jeffinsgf said.

    Flowering dogwoods, especially younger ones that haven't yet developed the protective "furrowed" texture in it's bark, are fairly susceptible to canker problems that sometimes develop due to outside influences, such as sun scald, frost cracks, improper pruning, possible weed-eater damage at the lower trunk area, etc.

    If you haven't already, I would recommend studying-up on the best techniques for pruning your dogwood this the same time, thinking about what you envision your tree to look like in the future !

    Because, after all, you do have a lot to do with... the future "direction" of your tree!!

    (Personally, I keep my cuts on dogwoods back to within 1/4" of the shoulder. I find that they heal much more efficiently and faster this way. Plus, I ALWAYS sterilize my Felco pruners before working on my dogwoods...just in case.)

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