How to Plant Weeping Willow Trees

Updated April 17, 2017

Weeping willow trees (Salix babylonica) are one of the most widely recognised trees in existence. Their long, graceful branches hang down in a pendulous effect, giving the trees a "weeping" appearance. These hardy trees are believed to be originally from China where they are regarded as a traditional symbol of immortality, spring and renewal. Before you plant a weeping willow tree, make sure you have a large enough area to allow it to grow. Although a very attractive tree, weeping willows are known for creating a great deal of garden litter, and their roots can be very invasive.

Purchase healthy 3- to 4-foot high weeping willow trees from your local garden nursery. You can purchase them in containers, as bare-root trees, or as ball-and-burlap trees. Larger sized trees are frequently root-bound, so try to purchase smaller trees.

Locate a suitable planting site for your weeping willow trees. Keep in mind that weeping willow trees can often reach heights of 35 to 50 feet with an equal spread. The ideal location provides full sun and is well away from any other trees or vegetation.

Measure out a 2-foot-square section of soil in the area that you have selected for planting the weeping willow trees. Use a garden hoe to remove any sod or weeds. Measure out a section for each tree you are going to plant. Each section needs to be about 40 to 50 feet apart.

Cultivate the soil in each of the sections down to a depth of 18 to 20 inches. You can use a shovel or garden fork to accomplish this. Pick out any garden litter such as rocks, sticks or roots as you till the soil.

Dig a planting hole for each weeping willow tree. If you are planting ball-and-burlap trees, dig a hole three times the width of the root ball and about its same depth. For container-grown trees the hole should be two to three times the diameter of the pot and about its same depth. If you are planting bare-root trees, each hole should be approximately the same width and depth as the root system.

Lay the container-grown weeping willow tree horizontally on a table or sturdy surface. Use a rubber mallet or hammer to tap along the base of the container until you free up the root system. If you're planting ball-and-burlap trees, cut the string that is tied around the trunk of the tree. For bare-root trees, cut off any bent or broken roots.

Plant the weeping willow into one of the planting holes. For ball and burlap trees, peel back the burlap from the top half of the root ball. Hold the tree vertical in the planting hole. Backfill the planting hole half full of soil. Fill the planting hole with water. Backfill the remaining half of the planting hole with soil once all the water has drained away.


Weeping willow trees are adaptable to a wide variety of soil types, although they will not thrive in soil that is very dry and fast-draining, according to the Floridata online plant database.

Things You'll Need

  • Weeping willow tree
  • Shovel
  • Hoe
  • Tub or basin
  • Scissors
  • Snips
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About the Author

Katelyn Lynn has been writing health and wellness articles since 2007. Her work appears on various websites. Lynn is a certified holistic health practitioner who specializes in orthomolecular medicine and preventative modalities. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health sciences from TUI University and has extensive experience in botany and horticulture.