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If you have red twig dogwood, you should learn how to prune its bushes. Since this variety grows up to 9 feet tall and wide, pruning Red Twig Dogwood Bushes using the right technique will improve its overall appearance. In the fall, red twig dogwood tree leaves turn deep red.

If you want this to be more vibrant and promote new growth, pruning at the right time using the right equipment becomes more important.

Therefore, in this article, I will tell you how to prune red twig dogwood to promote new growth, improve appearance, and prevent diseases. But before that, you must pay attention to the tools and equipment required for this job.

Tools & Gears You Need

5 Essential Tools for Pruning and their purposes

  1. Pruning shears – if you want to cut small branches and stems of your red twig dogwood, be sure to have shears. Pruning shears work best at cutting small branches & stems.
  2. Loppers – if any damaged branch needs to be handled with shear, consider getting loppers as well. Loppers are designed for cutting larger branches.
  3. Pruning saw – in the case of thick branches, experts recommend going with the pruning saw. 
  4. Handheld pruning saw – While pruning, you might have to handle areas you’re not able to reach or access. For this purpose, a handheld pruning saw has been designed to cut branches in hard-to-reach areas.
  5. Lastly, you will need hedge shears to shape your tree shrub properly.  

3 Protective gear to wear when pruning

  • Gloves – you must protect your hand. While pruning the shrubs of a tree, you might get cuts & scratches from thorns and other Shark objects. Therefore, it’s good to invest in a quality glove and wear it during the ruling process.
  • Safety goggles – Also, it’s important that you protect your eyes from debris using safety goggles. I usually like to wear safety goggles as well as a helmet.
  • Ear protection – Lastly, you might have noticed experts wearing ear protection so they don’t feel disturbed by the noise of Power tools. Wear proper ear protection if you also want to avoid distraction or disturbance from the power tool noises.

Other materials needed for the job

  1. Disinfectant spray – to prevent the spread of disease
  2. Ladder or step stool – for reaching higher branches
  3. Trash bags or compost bin – for disposing of branches & clippings

How To Prune Red Twig Dogwood Bushes

Like experts, you should also assess your tree’s health & condition before pruning it. You must give it a close inspection and identify any dead or diseased wood, crossing branches, or branches going inwards toward the center of the bushes.

You must also remove all the hazards and obstacles around your tree bushes to ensure a safe pruning environment. Let’s take five easy steps to prune red twig dogwood bushes.

Step 1: Identify Dead or Damaged Branches

I usually start by identifying all dead or damaged branches on my trees. It would help if you also did this.

While inspecting your tree, if you notice any brown or black branches or branches lacking leaves or buds, you should remove them. Dead or damaged branches can also be easily identified by their brittle & dry texture. 

Step 2: Remove Dead or Damaged Branches

Once you know what branches are dead or damaged, you must use the right tool. If the branches are small l, you can use pruning shears. In case of thick branches l, go with the pruning saw.

Remove dead or damaged ones at the base of the branch or where it connects to another branch to prevent further damage to the tree and allow for healthy new growth.

Step 3: Thin Out Overcrowded Branches

After that, you need to check if the bushes are overcrowded or if there are any crossing/rubbing branches.

If there is, thin them out and improve air circulation. It would help if you avoided overcrowded bushes on your tree to allow more sunlight to reach the center of your tree. You can use loppers or pruning shears to remove any branches that are rubbing, crossing, or growing inwards towards the center of the plant.

Step 4: Shape the Plant

Once you have removed those damaged and overcrowded branches, you can properly shape your red twig dogwood bushes.

You must use pruning shears or loppers only to trim the tips of the branch to the desired shape & size. I advise you to avoid cutting into the main stem of your tree, as this will damage your plant and encourage diseases & infestations.

Step 5: Clean Up

Lastly, you must clean up all the debris and dispose of it properly in a compost pile or trash can. Many people avoid cleaning up the debris after pruning their trees, which is wrong.

If you can do it later, do it immediately. Leaving the debris around your tree can spread disease and infestation again to it or other surrounding plants.

7 Techniques for Red Twig Dogwood Bushes

There are seven types of pruning cuts, each with a specific purpose. The most common types are:

  1. Heading back – This technique is popular when you are looking to reduce any branch length.
  2. Thinning – This technique is frequently used by professionals, gardeners, and landscapers to remove a branch entirely.
  3. Crown reduction – You can use this technique to decrease the height of your trees & shrubs. 
  4. Pollarding – This technique helps promote new growth on the shrub’s top if done properly.
  5. Shearing – If you want to shape the shrub into a specific form, consider this method.
  6. Pinching – This method is specifically effective when the tree is young. You can use this method to promote bushier growth.
  7. Notching – Lastly, this method helps you encourage flowering and fruiting during the growing season.

Make sure you are using proper techniques to avoid damaging your tree. You must cut at a slide angle above a bud or side branch and avoid leaving stubs. I like to make clean cuts using sharp tools to prevent tearing or crushing my plant’s tissue. You should adhere to this too. You should remove any branches that are growing towards the shrub’s center and cut back any branches that are taller than the others to maintain an open, airy structure that allows light to reach the shrub’s interior. All these are considered best practices for shaping and training the shrub.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid While Pruning Red Osier Dogwood

Incorrect Pruning Technique

Ensure you use the right pruning technique, which can damage the plant and inhibit its growth. One common mistake that I have frequently noticed with beginners is they cut branches too close to the trunk.

It would help if you never did this because it may leave a large wound that takes longer. Another mistake many noobs make while pruning their tree is cutting branches at an angle, which can lead to a larger wound and may not promote new growth. Therefore, as I’ve discussed above, you must use the thinning technique.


Yes, you might sometimes end up overrunning if you need to know how much to cut. You should know that over-pruning can lead to stunted growth and an unbalanced appearance. Therefore, make sure you are only pruning your tree when required. Also, prune only what is necessary to maintain your tree’s health & natural shape. Avoid removing more than one-third of the plant’s branches at a time.

Pruning at the Wrong Time

As I told you earlier, you should choose the right season and time to prune back any tree. It would help if you pruned a tree in a dormant season. Pruning at the wrong time is often considered detrimental to the plant.

Pruning during the growing season may stimulate new growth, which can be susceptible to frost damage in the winter. On the other hand, if you consider pruning during the dormant season, be careful, as you may also end up removing buds that would have produced new growth.

Therefore, it is best to stick with pruning your dogwood during late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

Also, Check

Dogwood Tree Allergy: All About Dogwood Allergy Rash & Pollens
Are Dogwood Tree Roots Invasive?
How Long Do Dogwood Trees Live

Pruning Red Osier Dogwood in Specific Situations

Pruning for Shaping and Aesthetics

If you want to give an aesthetic look or shape the bushes, I recommend using the topiary pruning technique. However, this technique requires some professional skills, so it’s better to consider hiring a professional for this job. This pruning is done to create a desired shape or size for the bushes. However, make sure you are doing this before new growth appears. 

Also Read: What Does A Dogwood Tree Look Like

Pruning to Remove Damaged Branches

In case of any sudden weather event, you should prune any damaged branches immediately. If this is the case, consider evaluating the thickness of the branch to determine the appropriate tool to be used.

If the branches are extremely thick, you might also have to use a pruning saw that requires assistance from an experienced individual. When you are removing damaged branches, make sure to cut just outside the collar of the branch to help your tree properly.

Also Check: How To Prune Red Osier Dogwood

Pruning for Controlling Growth

As I told you earlier, dogwood tree bushes can grow rapidly and very large, which needs to be pruned for controlled growth. For this, you should be using a thinning technique using pruning shears.

If any branch is growing too tall or too wide, remove it to give your plant a neat & tidy look. However, perform thinning techniques in late winter or early spring.

7 Tips for promoting healthy regrowth

  1. Ensure you are watering the shrub properly. I like to water my shrub deeply once a week during dry spells or periods. 
  2. It’s better if you use slow-release fertilizer in the spring & fall. 
  3. To retain moisture and suppress weed growth, you should be mulching around the base of your shrubs. 
  4. I like to remove disease and dead wood as soon as possible to prevent the spread of infestation and diseases. It would help if you did it too.
  5. From time to time, you should monitor your shrubs for signs of infestations and diseases to treat them promptly. 
  6. Ensure you avoid over-watering and over-fertilizing your shrubs to prevent weak growth, stunted growth, and disease susceptibility. 
  7. If you want, you can prune your shrub regularly to maintain its shape & structure.

Also Read: How To Keep A Dogwood Tree Healthy


After reading this article, I hope you have no problem pruning your tree back. I have given my best to answer how to prune red twig dogwood bushes. If you find this article helpful, then consider sharing it. Make sure you are pruning your red twig dogwood bushes in a dormant season and using clean tools.

Make sure to clean the equipment properly and lubricate all of its moving parts. It’s also important to clean your trees’ surrounding area to prevent diseases and pest infestations. It’s best to prune your tree in late winter or early spring to promote new growth and better results.

Check our other helpful guide on dogwood tree care & management shared on this website. See you in the next post, till then, take care and goodbye.