How to care for a weeping willow tree

Updated April 17, 2017

The weeping willow is one of the most beautiful trees you can plant in your yard. They require very little maintenance, and these ornamental deciduous trees can reach forty to fifty feet in height. With the right care, a weeping willow can grow as many as eight feet in just one year. Although they're typically found near rivers and lakes, a weeping willow can grow hardy just about anywhere. Its 35' spread offers shade and beauty to your yard, so consider planting one if you've have the space.

Be sure to plant your weeping willow in loose, healthy soil. Dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball, and place the tree in the ground. Refill the hole with dirt, making sure you completely cover any roots with the soil. Roots can dry out if exposed outside the soil for too long. Once you've planted your tree, give it a good long soak, either with your sprinkler or your hose. Also, be sure you're planting your tree at least six weeks before the first frost of the season.

Once your tree is planted, you'll need to do some basic maintenance. During its first two years, regular watering during dry months will keep it healthy. If you're lucky enough to plant your tree during a natural water supply, such as a creek or pond, you may not have to water it as often. Check the dryness of the tree by examining the leaves regularly. Trees that have received too much or too little water will have droopy leaves. A tree with the right amount of water will have crisp, healthy looking leaves.

Avoid fertilising the tree too much. A weeping willow doesn’t need much fertiliser, so if you do use it, do so sparingly. Use organic fertiliser, and add it to the soil around the tree, rather than directly to the trunk or leaves. Keep weeds and grass trimmed back around the base of the tree for the first few years.

Prune the tree regularly. A mature tree will develop fronds that droop all the way to the ground, even as much as thirty feet. By trimming it each season, you'll help promote lots of healthy growth the following year. If you want to keep a clear space beneath the tree, either for shade or for children to play, just trim off some of the bottom branches. It won't hurt the tree, and soon you won't even be able to see where cut them off.

Keep an eye on your tree through the winter. In the late fall, the leaves will fall off your weeping willow, the trunk will turn brown and the tree will go dormant. Don't panic if your tree looks dead during the cold winter months! While it may look bad above ground, under the soil the roots will continue to grow, and in the spring, your tree will flourish once more.


Weeping willows will grow fairly quickly if you put them in full sun to partial shade, so pick a bright spot for your tree.


The best defence against bugs is to keep your tree healthy. Insects rarely attack a tree that's in good health.

Things You'll Need

  • A weeping willow tree
  • Good healthy soil
  • Water
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About the Author

Patti Wigington has been writing for nearly twenty years. Her work has appeared on a variety of websites and in a number of print publications, and she spent five years as a staff writer for a Columbus, Ohio, newspaper. She is the author of a children's book, a novel for middle grade readers, and two adult novels.