Tree of the Month: Dogwood

Due to their manageable 20-to 30-foot height and unrivaled beauty in all four seasons, dogwoods are many homeowners’ ornamental tree of choice. They bloom profusely in late spring through early summer and sport gorgeous red-purple leaves and raspberry-like fruit in autumn. Learn more about dogwood trees to help you properly care for them into maturity.

Choosing a Location

The ideal location for this small tree is a moist area within the partial shade of taller surrounding trees. Avoid planting your dogwood in an arid spot or too close to the reflective walls of buildings that could dry them out. While dogwoods will tolerate a variety of soil conditions, they do best in well-drained, slightly acidic soil.

Planting Dogwood Trees

Transplant your new dogwood tree in late fall or early spring when the air is cool and the ground is moist. Water the transplanted tree regularly until it becomes established.

When planting, make the hole at least three times the diameter of the root ball and just deep enough that the root ball sits slightly above ground level. If the soil is compacted, dig deeper than necessary and backfill to the necessary depth.

Once the tree is in place, fill in the original soil or a half-and-half mixture of soil and organic material. Mound the soil around the sides of the root ball without covering the top. If you apply mulch around the tree, keep the material a few inches away from the trunk.

Fertilizer is not usually required unless the soil is extremely deprived of nutrients. If you do decide to add some, use a small amount of slow-release fertilizer.

Watering Dogwood Trees

Even once your new tree is established, you should provide it with supplemental water during dry periods of summer and fall. Dogwood roots are shallow, so they can’t reach water deep down during droughts. Water the tree once a week to a depth of 6 inches. If you apply mulch to slow evaporation, you may not need to water as often.

Pruning Dogwood Trees

Occasional pruning and shaping is a good way to keep your dogwood healthy and attractive. The best time to prune is in early summer, just after the flowers have dissipated. If pruned in the winter, dogwoods will “bleed” sap. Summer pruning prevents this.

Dogwood Anthracnose

Much to the chagrin of dogwood tree owners, this beautiful species has a lethal enemy: anthracnose. This fungal disease has devastated wild populations across North America, so to make sure you don’t transplant an infected tree, purchase your dogwood from a certified disease-free nursery. Never transplant wild trees into your yard because if they’re infected, they could spread the fungus to other plants. To help protect your dogwood from anthracnose, ensure the tree receives morning sunlight and has good air circulation around it. Also, keep the soil moist, not soaking wet all the time.

The first signs of dogwood anthracnose are light brown spots on the leaves, which grow into larger discolored areas. The disease moves on to the twigs, branches and eventually the trunk, where large cankers develop and kill the tree. The entire process often takes only two to three years. Fungicides are available to fight the infection as long as you begin treatment soon enough.

If you’re interested in planting a beautiful ornamental dogwood tree on your property, or your existing tree is showing signs of anthracnose or other disease, please contact The Grounds Guys®. We can help you get the most from your landscaping this year.

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