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How to Plant a Dogwood Tree From a Young Sapling

By Bridget Kelly ; Updated September 21, 2017
In the wild, dogwoods grow under the canopy of larger trees.

The dogwood is a deciduous tree that is well-adapted to growing in USDA hardiness zones 5a to 8b. The dogwood is an easy-to-care for tree that will provide color to a shady spot in the garden. When shopping for the dogwood sapling, look for those that are locally grown and being grown in containers. Container-grown native trees are easier to establish. Plant the sapling in early spring to give it time to set up roots prior to the summer heat.

Choose a spot in which to grow your dogwood tree. It should be in an area that is partially shady and protected from wind. The soil in the area should drain quickly. If the water puddles in the area after a hard rain, and doesn't drain for up to four hours, you will need to choose a different location.

Prepare the soil for the dogwood sapling by digging into it to a depth of 12 inches. Fluff up the soil with the gardening fork and break up any large clumps of dirt. Remove any debris that turns up, such as rocks or roots.

Dig a hole the same depth and four times the width of the dogwood sapling's root ball.

Remove the dogwood sapling from its pot and gently spread the roots out. Place the roots in the hole and check the depth of the tree. When planted, the very top of the roots should be 1 inch above the soil. After adjusting for the proper depth, fill the hole halfway with soil.

Fill the hole with water. When the water drains, completely fill the hole with soil.

Create a water ring, also called a water well, around the sapling. Mound up a wall of soil, 5 inches in height and 8 inches thick, and form it into a ring completely around the tree. It should sit at least 12 inches away from the tree. Fill the ring with water, allow it to drain and then fill it again.

Lay down a 4-inch layer of mulch inside the water ring, completely surrounding the sapling, keeping it 2 inches from the bark.


Things You Will Need

  • Gardening fork
  • Shovel
  • Mulch

About the Author


Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.