How to Trim a Dogwood Tree


Dogwood is a majestic species of deciduous tree grown for its prodigious show of spring blooms and dense hardwood timber. Spring flowering is following by a lush shade canopy of green in summer, rich red to dark purple leaves in the fall, and bright berries for the birds in winter. According to North Carolina State University, dogwood trees do not require regular pruning for bloom but can benefit from light trimming to remove damage and maintain tidiness.

Step 1

Trim your dogwood tree while it is in its dormancy in the winter or very early spring before mid-March. Avoid late spring pruning, which invites the damaging activity of dogwood borers, and summer pruning that can result in stress due to heat and drought.

Step 2

Trim away discolored, broken, abrading, diseased, insect-damaged or dead branches and foliage within the canopy or wherever you spot it. Cut back to the parent branch to a point of healthy wood, placing the cut just outside the slightly swollen branch collar.

Step 3

Prune away all shoots and water sprouts that grow from the base of the tree or the lower trunk. Remove any low branches that lay on or sweep the surface of the soil or interfere with walking under or near the tree.

Step 4

Water your dogwood generously after pruning, keeping the soil evenly moist but not wet. Watering will compensate for any moisture lost to evaporation from the wound cuts and reduce stress on the tree. Dogwoods enjoy 1 inch of water throughout the active growing season but considerably less when dormant.

Things You'll Need

  • Pole saw
  • Long-handled loppers


  • North Carolina State University: Flowering Dogwood
Keywords: dogwood trees, trimming cornus species, when to prune dogwood

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.