The Q&A Archives: Pruning Dogwood

Question: I have two flowering dogwood trees that are getting larger and bushier than I would like. How can I get them down to the size they were a few years ago when we first moved into this home? When and how are these beautiful trees pruned?

Answer: Spring-flowering trees and shrubs should be pruned right after bloom to allow a long season for the plant to develop buds for next year's flowers. Dogwood trees adapt easily to a pruning technique called crown thinning, which reduces the height and spread of a tree but maintains its natural shape. Thin some of the branches by cutting them back all the way to the trunk. Be sure to cut just in front of the natural swelling on the trunk, called the branch collar, without leaving a stub, but without damaging the collar. Other branches can be cut back by about one-third. Don't prune too drastically though--you should remove no more than 1/3 the volume of the tree canopy at a time, so it can take a couple years to significantly reduce the size.

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