How to prune weeping willow trees

Updated July 19, 2017

Weeping willow trees (salix babylonica), sometimes called Babylon weeping willow, is a deciduous tree that grows nine to 12 metres (30 to 40 feet) tall and wide. It has a rounded, broad crown of branches that weep down to the ground. The graceful branches make it a stunning specimen tree edging a pond or stream. The narrow, lance-shaped foliage on weeping willow trees are light green with a grey to green underside. They grow best in full sun to part shade and moist, well-drained soil.

Prune weeping willows during their dormant season - in late winter and before new growth begins. This stimulates more growth the next growing season and prevents damaging the plant.

Shear off the top of the weeping willow at the terminal bud - the main area of the growth that is located on the top end of the stem. Use sharp pruning shears to prune all side or lateral branches except the top two branches. This ensures a strong, straight stem.

Remove all diseased or broken branches to avoid abnormal growth and infection of the rest of the tree. Discard the diseased branches away from the site. Cut off crossed or overgrown branches by removing the entire stem.

Sparingly prune young weeping willow trees to one central stem. Keep one to two branches on either side of the plant to free up nutrients to the rest of the willow.

Cut off and discard all sucker shoots that arise from the trunk of the tree by removing the entire rootball.


Weeping willows trees are not recommended for residential landscaping because of their invasive roots and litter potential.


Always wear protective gloves when using pruning shears.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
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About the Author

Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on and Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.