The Q&A Archives: Removing Dead Dogwood

Question: I have(or had)a Pink Flowering Dogwood that was planted on my front lawn this past spring (4/2000). The tree, for one reason or another just did not make it. The leaves are practically all brown and brittle and the smaller twigs are extremely brittle. This fall, I'd like to remove this tree and plant a new Magnolia. How can I check to see if it was the soil where the tree was planted that was bad and caused the tree to die? Or was it just a bad tree? If the soil is bad, I'd like to "fix" it before planting the new Magnolia.

Answer: Dogwoods have fairly strict soil requirements if they are to thrive. They need an acid soil that is rich in humus and stays evenly mosit and yet is well drained so it never becomes soggy. The trees prefer a partially shaded location and in full sun may need extra attention to watering because they are shallow rooted. They also resent being planted too deeply and great care must be taken not to damage the trunk with weedwhackers or other tools. Dogwoods are also subject to a number of diseases. So, although it is possible there is a problem with your soil, there are many possible contributing factors. You should probably run some basic soil tests and find out about your soil before planting another tree, just in case. Your county extension (745-3445) should be able to help you with the tests and interpreting the results, and may also be able to suggest some suitable trees to consider for the location you have in mind. You might also have them try to diagnose what happened to the dogwood, just in case it is a disease problem that might infect the new tree.

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