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Question
Hello Robin,

I'm really hoping you can help me. I think my landlord killed "our" dogwood tree! About 2 years ago, they planted grass. Tons of fertilizer and weed killer used. The dogwood is right in the grass, by the way! On top of that, they are paranoid that every "vine" is poison ivy...even though I assured them that what they were seeing was Virginia Creeper...they insist on dousing everything with weed killer, ivy killer, etc. Now....last season, the dogwood did not fully bloom....it bloomed, but much less then it had in the past years. This year? Nada. Nothing. Branches look ok, and they all have the little buds #didn't notice if they were always there, or just grew recently# but that's it. No leaves, no flowers, nothing. I am on Long Island, in NY and everyone else's trees started blooming a couple of weeks ago. So....obviously....the lawn crazies effected the tree with all of the chemicals. Is it dead? Totally dead? Is there any hope of maybe it coming back next year? The year after? I'm so mad at them, you have no idea. The tree is right in front of my door, and made me smile everyday, no matter the season. Very sad.

Answer
Hi Susan,

What can cause a dogwood to not flower?

A few things can impact it actually.   Too much water, too little water, Inadequate sunshine, too much nitrogen...  Ah too much nitrogen, especially from turf fertilizer can impact flowering.  These are not tree or shrub fertilizers, and often designed to encourage top growth versus flowering.    It is not likely to kill the dogwood, however for long term results you will need to alter what is being done.  

Obviously your landlord is very interested in a great visually appealing lawn area, and must enjoy mowing it as well.     But back to the dogwood.   We likely can not stop your landlord from fertilizing the lawn, so can we remove the lawn and area fertilized from around the tree?   Do you think your landlord would object to the removal of turf area around the base of the tree ( directly over the root area) and covering it with some nice colored mulch?    

Long term we do need to control the turf fertilizer application, and this may prove to be an effective long term solution.  

Let me know your thoughts, and if this is not viable, then we can try looking at other options.   Unfortunately this year we can not create any additional flowers for you, we need to manage that over a longer term.  

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Robin Wells

Expertise

Most of my experience is in urban forestry and landscape environment. Questions related to tree identification, tree diseases or insect related problems, soil related issues or soil science, pruning techniques or practices, pesticide related questions, fertilization of trees or shrubs, tree support systems (cabling or bracing), tree planting, tree watering needs or tree risk assessment/management, although insect related we also have a specific area dealing with the emerald ash borer.

Experience

30 years work in urban forestry. Bachelor degree in forestry. ISA Certified Arborist. ISA Certified Tree Risk Assessor. Consulting Arborist. Ontario licensed pesticide applicator.

Organizations
ISA Intrenational ISA Ontario Ontario Commercial Arborist Association Tree Care Industry Association American Society of Consulting Arborists

Publications
Midland Mirror ( newspaper )

Education/Credentials
Bachelor degree in forestry. Many other post university seminars and courses in Aboriculture.

Past/Present Clients
Various commercial, residential, municipal, real estate and legal clients. Typically do not list the names.

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