Weeping Willow Tree?

smurphy7March 24, 2014

I am trying to decide on which tree I would like to plant in my yard this year. I have a dedicated spot in the back corner of my property that I plan on planting a weeping willow. There is plenty of room in this location and a willow would do just fine in this soil, however the more research I do on weeping willows the more negative things I read about them. I initially chose to plant a willow because I really love the way they look and because I am looking for a tree to provide privacy and shade. Should I proceed with planting a willow or is there a better tree out there that I should be considering??? Thanks!

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

There is plenty of room in this location

==>>> define plenty of room.... are we talking acreage???

its not well suited for almost all suburban applications.. what i call a nice park or golf course tree .. [in other words.. its someone elses problem.. lol]

what are your plans under said tree ... if you plan on growing much of anything... the tree is the ultimate competitor ... in the decades to come.. even grass might lose the battle ....

just about anything.. short of a bradford pear.. is a better tree... IMHO ...

all that said.. its your property .. live your dream ... who cares what the rest of us think ...


ps: better than tree of heaven though.. lol...

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 4:30PM
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If you love the way they look then go with one, because nothing else looks like a weeping willow. I have a few of them because I also like the way they look. They are, however, very messy, dropping small dead branches all over. Also, they are weak, very fast growing, and the shallow roots are a pain to mow around.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 8:44PM
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I agree. I have a few of the 'less desirable' trees too with the understanding before the fact that I may lose one to it's frailties, a certain insect, or have litter underneath it. If the pleasure I get from it is greater than the grief it gets me I plant it and enjoy. There are some restrictions to willows you can't avoid like unavoidable proximity to a septic system, allergies, size of lot, where it's not a matter of inconvenience but damage. I have a collection of crabapple trees, one or two of which came with the caveat they are quite susceptible to fire blight. I have had them almost twenty years now without an issue and I look at them and enjoy them daily as I bird watch in that area overlooking the pond. If they crap tomorrow, I got my money's worth.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 9:26PM
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If you must have a weeping willow, then have one. Just be prepared for the price you will pay for the choice. They are an up and down tree. They grow rapidly and just as rapidly go into a decline. Chances are, you will out live the tree. Their old age is not pretty, literally. Lots of dead and dying branches and trunk rot. Be sure that you plant your tree well away from water and sewer lines. The roots are notorious for searching these out and clogging them. It is most unpleasant to have a sewer back up in your bath tub. The roots will spread beyond the drip line of the branches. They are shallow and will raise a sidewalk or bust a foundation without asking permission. Do you like caterpillars? Willows are a host for tent caterpillars. Willows produce large amounts of pollen to which some people are allergic. A weeping willow is much like an alligator. Best seen in the distance either in or beside the water.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:23AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

It's a good idea not to plant any tree too close to utilities, but, with modern water and sewer lines (we're not talking about septic tanks and drain fields) there really shouldn't be a problem with roots from trees planted at reasonable distances. Water lines and sewer pipes should not be leaking, and non-leaking pipes will not "attract" roots.

I used to have a couple of weeping willows in my back yard (the neighbor still has one in her's, near the property line). The weren't that old but had already started showing signs of problems. I went ahead and sent them to weeping willow heaven.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 1:40AM
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Campanula UK Z8

If this was predominantly a British forum, I would be a shrieking nay-sayer.....there is little worse than the planting of a forest tree in a surburban (or worse, inner city) garden. Americans, with, as a rule, much more garden space, can often get away with these huge maples, oaks, beeches and willows (I am assuming S.babylonica or S.chinesis). Even so, it does grow extremely fast, leaves a fair mess and takes up a huge amount of water.......
Personally, if I was desperate for a weeping tree (which would be unlikely), I might be looking at a weeping Katsura - cercidiphyllum - which stays rather neat and mannerly in the UK)

    Bookmark   March 26, 2014 at 7:25PM
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That's good to hear about the weeping katsura, because I have one who needs to be put in ground and wanted to plant it on a sloping site over a stone wall, and was concerned it might be too much to handle when I have other sites (but with less dramatic impact) on which to place it. It has been common practise for the last few decades in the states for people with large gardens and imposing house sizes to install dwarf trees because they come and go in their fifteen minutes of fame and every box store carries them. Then those homeowners wonder what is missing in their landscape designs. No vertical interest and even their flower gardens contain dwarf versions of classics. They also seem to have an aversion to using rakes and won't plant trees with anything they must clean up after other than leaf drop in autumn. I could always tell which customers were real gardeners and which ones only installed plant material as an afterthought. They are the same ones who buy paintings not for the art, but because it matches the paint on their walls.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2014 at 7:01AM
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terrene(5b MA)

A weeping willow is much like an alligator. Best seen in the distance either in or beside the water.

Good one!

Personally I would only plant S. babylonica if you have a natural spot that is wet, in a large (3/4 acre +) back yard, that is at least 100 feet from any structure or underground pipes (yours or neighbors).

They are beautiful trees. I would even like it when it falls apart, because I appreciate sprouty old trunks, tree litter, dead branches, wildlife cavities, and caterpillars too. Great for the birds!

Alas, no willows here, this is a dry upland lot, and I have enough grief from the big Silver maple that is 20 feet from house and enthusiastically invades the gutter area and septic system. 8-/

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 6:48PM
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