Transplanting a dogwood tree


Trimming Dogwood Trees: Tips On How To Prune A Flowering Dogwood Tree

A harbinger of spring in parts of the country that enjoy mild winters, flowering dogwood trees boast an abundance of pink, white or red flowers long before the first leaves appear in spring. Since they grow only 15 to 30 feet tall, there is room for a dogwood tree in almost any landscape. They seldom need pruning, but when the need does arise, correct dogwood tree pruning leads to a healthier, more attractive tree.

When to Trim a Dogwood Tree

Part of proper dogwood pruning involves knowing when to trim a dogwood tree. In areas where boring insects are a problem, never prune a dogwood tree in spring. The wounds created by pruning cuts provide an entry point for these devastating insects.

In addition, if pruned while the tree is actively growing in spring and summer, the wounds bleed copious amounts of messy sap. Therefore, the best time to prune a dogwood tree is in late fall and winter while the tree is dormant.

Dogwood Tree Pruning Info

Dogwood trees have a naturally attractive shape and don’t require routine pruning, but there are some circumstances where pruning and trimming dogwood trees becomes necessary. Pruning a dogwood tree when these situations arise helps prevent insects and disease from infesting the tree and allows for better growth and shape.

Before pruning a dogwood tree, you should be aware that removing large branches can damage the trunk if the heavy branch breaks away and tears down the trunk as you begin to cut. Therefore, you should remove branches larger than two inches in diameter by making three cuts to prevent tearing.

Make the first cut on the underside of the branch, 6 to 12 inches out from the trunk of the tree. Cut only one-third of the way through the branch. Make the second cut about an inch beyond the first one, cutting completely through the branch. Make the third cut at the collar of the branch to remove the stub. The collar is the swollen area of the branch near the trunk.

How to Prune a Flowering Dogwood Tree

When you’re ready for trimming dogwood trees in your yard, it also helps to know a little bit about when and how to prune a flowering dogwood tree.

  • Remove damaged, diseased or dead branches at the collar. These branches are unsightly and provide an entry point for insects and disease.
  • Remove undersized twigs and branches that detract from the shape of the tree to open up the canopy for better air circulation and to let in sunlight.
  • Suckers that grow at the base of a dogwood tree use energy that the tree needs for proper growth. Remove them as close to the roots as possible.
  • The lower limbs on a dogwood tree sometimes hang so low that you can’t mow under the tree or enjoy the shade it provides. Remove low-hanging branches at the collar.
  • When two branches cross and rub together, they create wounds that allow insects and diseases to gain a foothold. Remove the least desirable of the two crossing branches.

Now that you know the basics of dogwood tree pruning, you can enjoy your trees without the worry of them becoming unsightly or sick.

Dogwood Tree Transplanting: How And When To Move A Dogwood

Flowering dogwoods are native to most areas of the eastern United States. They are useful as understory trees for partially shaded locations or even a fully sunny site, but often planted in improper locations and require transplanting. Can dogwood trees be transplanted? They certainly can, but follow a few tips on when to move a dogwood and how to do it correctly beforehand.

Can Dogwood Trees be Transplanted?

Dogwoods are lovely plants with four seasons of interest. Their characteristic flowers are actually bracts, or modified leaves, which surround the actual tiny flower. In fall the leaves turn red and orange and bright red fruits form, which birds adore. Their year-round beauty is a boon to any garden and should be preserved.

If a dogwood needs to be moved, choose a site that is suitable so it doesn’t need to be moved again. The trees do well in dappled light in well-drained soil that is moderately acidic. Consider the height of the tree and avoid power lines and sidewalks. It is common to misgauge the height or width of a foundation plant, requiring the need to move it.

Dogwoods also often fail to flower because over story trees have gotten

so dense there isn’t enough light to fuel blooms. Whatever the cause, you need to know a few tricks for transplanting dogwoods.

When to Move a Dogwood

Dogwood tree transplanting should be done when they are dormant. This would be when the leaves have dropped and before bud break. Provided your soil is workable, this could be in the middle of winter, but northern gardeners will have to wait until early spring. Transplanting dogwoods earlier can damage the plant’s health because the sap is actively running and any injury to the roots can invite rot and disease, or even girdle the plant.

How to Transplant a Dogwood Tree

A good idea to maximize the health of the tree and prevent transplant shock is to root prune. This is done the season before you will move the tree. Prune the roots in October for an early spring transplant. Cut a trench around the root zone that you desire, severing any roots outside the circle. The size of the root ball varies dependent on the size of the tree. Clemson Cooperative Extension has a root ball sizing table available online.

After the winter season is nearly over, it is time to transplant the tree. Tie up any errant growth to protect branches. It is a good idea to dig the hole first, but if you don’t, wrap the root ball in moist burlap. Use a sharp spade to cut around the area where you root pruned and then under-cut the tree at a 45-degree angle.

Place the soil and root ball on the burlap and tie it around the base of the trunk. Dig the hole twice as large and twice as deep as the root ball with a hill of dirt at the center base. Unwrap the tree and spread the roots out.

Back fill, taking care to use the substrate soil first and then the topsoil. Pack the soil around the roots. A good method is to water in the soil so it sinks around the roots. Fill up to the original soil line and water well to pack the soil.

Keep the tree well watered until it establishes. Don’t panic if it loses a few leaves, as it will perk up in no time.

It was “Anchor Day” here at the Landscaping By J. Michael office when our crews had their first crew meeting of the new season, where they discussed fall services, changing expectations, and upcoming projects, including the transplant of a large Dogwood Tree for one of our clients! Of course, transplanting a tree is enjoyable and fascinating work for a landscaper, and even tends to get people in the office talking. After all, who would imagine that you could dig up a beautiful tree, relocate it, and watch it thrive in its new home?
Nevertheless, there are some critical points to be investigated before transplanting a Dogwood Tree, and a successful transplant requires proper planning. In this case, the plant to be relocated had very sentimental value to our clients, who planted the Dogwood Tree when their children were small. Now, the tree (pictured above) has grown tall, and needs to be moved to a different spot on the property, where it will continue to get stronger!
The transplant was a success, and we thought it would be fun to share some important factors we took into consideration before diving into this assignment!
Did You Know:
Landscapers must learn all about a phenomenon called “transplant shock,” how to avoid it, and how to cure it once it strikes! Transplant shock refers to the various stressors that occur in recently transplanted trees and shrubs, including failure of the plant to root well in its new landscape. This sort of thing happens because plants were not designed to be moved from place to place, but sometimes it’s worth moving our beloved plants to a better spot. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid transplant shock, and methods to care for plants that do experience this setback.
How to Avoid Transplant Shock:
First of all, our crew will be sure to disturb the root as little as possible, which means they will bring along as much of the root as they can, and then will avoid roughing up the root ball or shaking dirt off of it. In fact, you will notice in the photo, that we have used a cover to protect the root during the move. Another trick is to keep that root moist throughout the entire process. Even after replanting, you should continue to provide the plant with plenty of water. This will help the plant settle healthfully into its new location.
Nifty Trick of the Trade:
There’s never a guarantee when it comes to tree transplants, but professional landscapers are trained on how to transplant trees and shrubs successfully. And while our crews have learned the fundaments of relocating plants, there are also some pretty interesting ways to minimize the effects of transplant shock. For example, if your transplanted tree or shrub is struggling to flourish, you can always add some sugar to its diet! This strategy may sound bizarre, but studies have shown that a solution made from water and plain sugar can help the recovery time for plants suffering from transplant shock.
J. Michael also let us in on another trick, which involves adding seaweed extract. He explained that the risk of a transplant is that you’re cutting off its means of consuming the nutrients it needs to survive. With a tree transplant, you’re taking a mature tree (its trunk and its canopy of leaves) but then you’re removing a chunk of its roots! A good landscaper will have the know-how to help the plant rebuild its roots as quickly as possible!
Timing Is Important:
For our most recent tree transplant, the client was requesting to have the work done immediately, but J. Michael tends to suggest holding off until November for transplants. It’s best to relocate a plant while it’s dormant, in order to minimize the chance of a decline. This usually means scheduling a transplant between the months of November through March. If you have any questions, you should feel free to call us here at Landscaping By J. Michael, to speak with an expert!
That’s All…For Now!
We hope you found this brief tutorial on tree and shrub transplantation interesting! Be sure to call J. Michael for your tree planting or replanting needs.

You have planted a new tree fresh from the nursery in your yard. Then, you notice that it appears to be dying. Did the nursery sell you a sick tree? Did you plant it wrong?

Try to stay calm. Your tree may not be suffering from an insect or disease. It may simply be something experts call transplant shock.

Causes Of Transplant Shock

Transplant shock occurs when a tree, either young from a nursery or a long-standing tree, is moved to a new area and experiences stress. This condition is common in newly transplanted trees as they try to establish a new root system. When young trees are dug from a nursery, they typically retain only 10-20% of their root system. The rest are left where the young tree originally grew. Thus, newly transplanted trees may be operating with a much smaller root system than what they actually need.

A good comparison is trying to breathe with only a small part of your lungs available. There’s plenty of oxygen around you, but you don’t have the tools available to absorb it. It’s the same with trees that operate with a compromised root system: There may be plenty of water and nutrients in the soil, but if there aren’t enough roots, the tree cannot absorb it.

Experts agree that a newly planted tree typically needs one year for each inch in diameter of the trunk to regain a normal root system. For example, a three-inch diameter newly planted tree will need at least three years in the ground to become fully established.

Symptoms Of Transplant Shock

Despite your best efforts, newly planted may still struggle to become established. Look for the following signs to determine if it could be suffering from transplant shock:

  • Wilting, scorching, browning leaves, or early onset of fall colors. Trees that grow with a compromised root system will have limited water availability and may send the wrong signals to foliage, creating off-season coloration.
  • Leaf rolling. As leaves dry out, they will often cup or curl to reduce the amount of exposed leaf surface that evaporates moisture. It’s a water saving feature that reduces the loss of water as the tree becomes water stressed.

Transplant shock also makes the tree more vulnerable to pests and diseases. A certified arborist can help to diagnose issues and recommend cultural care options or treatments that may help the tree through a stressful time.

Even though the tree may look like it is dying, a quick scratch with your thumbnail to reveal tissue just under the bark of a small twig will provide evidence that the tree is still trying to grow. If the tissue just under the bark is green and the twig is flexible, there’s a good chance the tree is still viable. If the tissue is brown and the twig cracks when bent, survival is less likely. While pruning newly planted trees for shape is not recommended, experts agree that you should prune away dead or dying twigs.

Preventing Transplant Shock

In order to minimize transplant shock and allow the tree to develop new roots quickly, follow these simple steps:

  • Select and plant trees that are native to the region. Native trees are better suited to deal with the local climate and soils.
  • Plant new trees at the proper depth. Experts agree that the top of the first lateral root should just barely be visible at the ground surface after planting.
  • Water is a key ingredient for new trees to thrive! Long and deep soaking is preferable to a small amount applied every day. Lawn irrigation may not provide the right amount of water since it typically only wets an inch or two of soil where turf roots develop. Proper tree watering will soak much deeper, and then allow soil to partially dry before the next deep soak.
  • Unless the soil is heavy clay or very poor quality, it is best to plant a tree with the same soil as you remove from the planting hole. If the planting hole and surrounding soils are very different, tree roots may stay “close to home” in the amended soil within the planting hole and not reach outward to create good structural support.
  • Handle trees with care during the planting process. Lift by the root ball when possible to avoid damage to the trunk.
  • Apply mulch around the tree at 2-3 inches deep and covering the area under the branch spread of the tree. Do not pile up mulch and create a volcano effect. Instead, create a donut shape that creates a hole, with little to no mulch touching the base of the tree.
  • Fertilizing and pruning for shape are not recommended at the time of planting. Only prune dead, dying, broken, and poorly formed branches. After a year, or after the tree has become fully established consider fertilization or additional pruning. Some branches may appear to be “out of place” but might benefit growth by providing energy to just the right places. A certified arborist can perform this pruning or provide guidance on proper care of newly planted trees.

Even though it is mostly out of sight, consider the wellbeing of a tree’s root system to improve the success of transplanted trees. To help prevent transplant shock in your transplanted trees, call your local tree service like Hansen’s Tree Service. A certified arborist can consult with you at your home and advise you on the best planting location and methods for your specific tree as well as how to care for it once transplanted.

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