Weeping Willows can grow big in a hurry

jamiedolan(4/5)June 26, 2011

Unless you really know your willing to take care of it / prune it, they are, as Ken frequently says, for a tree for city lots. There are not a lot of them on lots in the city here, just a few, but when they are taken care of, they do look really nice and they stand out. They are a nice change from all the Norway and Silver Maples in just about every yard.

I don't mind caring for it, and I have almost a half acre, but I put it right in the middle front of the front yard. It's far enough away it can't fall on anything. I love the way it looks and am glad I put it there. I may have to do some more aggressive pruning in a few years to keep it in line, but since it's a willow, I think it will handle it just fine.

But they get huge in a hurry! I'm amazed at the growth in just over a year.

Just for reference, that circle is about 11' wide now and the drip line is a bit wider than the circle.

See Link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Willow Growth

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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

I'm actually a little nervous for you. That tree gets enormous and should not be planted that close to the street.

I love me WI peeps but keeping that there is borderline reckless planting.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 3:11PM
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wow, i have seen a few around my parts and they are HUUUUGGE! so close to the street? and the roots on these trees can eat small towns!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 5:45PM
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I know it will need pruning to maintain that location. It's a good 40 feet from my house, so it's not going to fall over and crush anyone. If one day many years from now it manages to mess with the curb a little, I'll have to deal with it. It's still 7' from the curb, a 3' diamater trunk would still be 5.5' from the curb, so I suspect it will be quite a while before there is a problem. I could excavate along the inside of the curb and install a root barrier fabric too.

One day it may become a problem, but it's very easy to take out, the street is right there to drop it into. I took out the 50 year old spruce from the front yard.

It's not a legacy planting, I know it won't be here 100 years from now, might only make it 20-30, I'm the only one that will likely ever have to deal with it. I hope to be able to enjoy watching it grow for a couple decades though. Then one day if I have to get out the chain saw and start over, so be it.

Everyone that sees it loves the tree, it's worth the eventual hassles and the fact that it has a finite life span.

Tons of silver maples planted around town in the terrace, where they have about 4-5' wide to grow max. Many of those are 50+ years old, and some do get to be a problem at that age and have to go, willow may get to the problem stage faster, but it's got more room than most of those silver maple get.


1 Like    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 7:36PM
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whaas_5a(5A SE WI)

My comment was probably a little harsh, I do appreciate that you already know the pruning requirements and that you will need to watch the plant to determine when its time to part with the tree.

Someone might have actually data, but there is an extremely high probability the tree will damage the street.

I just hate to see a weed tree planted (you see these everywhere) in place of a legacy tree.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 9:27PM
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I completely understand and totally respect where your coming from. My tree planting philosophy for my city plot is fairly selfish from a long term perspective.

If I had more property / space here, I'd be planting, oak, black cherry & walnut, ginko, sugar maples, dawn redwood, etc. - trees that are fairly to quite long lived. I very much value and appreciate the long lived "legacy" trees. My Green ash is 48 years old and in exceptional condition, (ISA certified arborist was very impressed with it, and it is even looking better now - he said I had the dead limbs so well pruned out it wouldn't even be worth it for him to do anything to it and this tree is a good 60' tall) I am taking very good care of that tree, through it's not as long lived as many, at least it has the potential to make it another 100 years.

Unfortunately, no matter what you plant, as you know, city conditions are often extremely hard on trees, and they live much much shorter life spans than they should. I'm convinced that PROPER mulching (meaning as close to going out to the drip line as possible, even with large trees) with good mulch with organic material mixed in plays a huge role in tree health. Unfortunately, this is extremely unpopular for some reason (people love that dang nutrient water sucking weed...Grass), and people want to grow the grass right up to the tree, and when that doesn't work, they just dump more and more soil on top of the roots then throw down some more seed. Remember that tree I showed here a couple weeks ago that had the funny color edges and was diagnosed as having chlorsis, that tree hangs well over my property and provides valuable shade, but it is my neighbors tree, it's buried too deep and has grass growing right up to the tree. My mature maple, about the same age as my neighbors, is growing like a weed and looks very healthy, but it is mulched out to the drip line with nice mulch with organic matter mixed in.

My drive to plant very fast growing trees is multifaceted;

1. Like so many of us, I am driven by instant gratification, something most long lived hard wood trees don't give you. I thoroughly enjoy watching how fast my plants and trees grow. In fact, growing my plants and trees (along with my dogs) are about the most exciting, engaging and meaningful activities in my life.

2. I love Hosta. While I am finding some are more sun tolerant with lots of water, there are many that need a more shaded environment. In under 2 years, the weeping willow has gotten large enough that I was able to plant Halycon under it, and it is looking great. I want to keep packing my yard full of hosta and need at least partial shade for many of them to do well. I've added almost 80 hosta to my front yard in the last 3 weeks. Fire & Ice, Christmas Tree & August moon are in a large amount of sun currently, and they are doing surprising well, but the sun is moderately hard on them and I am having to remove burnt leaves, as well as giving them copious amounts of water. I have Amoroni Gold, Sum and Subtle and Halycon under the weeping willow, and they are loving the location so far.

I've seen some weeping willows aggressively cut back in a really creative way that made them look great, I'd guess it is a form of coppicing. When I get to the size where I need that aggressive of pruning, I'll likely have the ISA certified arborist come out to discuss.

When I look at the silver maples that are out growing their terrace space, it seems they are mainly shifting the sidewalk and not so much the curb, not sure why exactly, maybe the curbs are poured deeper.

There was a fairly nice looking weeping willow about 2 blocks from here, they cut it down last year for some reason, I thought it looked like it was in good condition. Then about 3 blocks from here, there is an amazing weeping willow that must be 50+ years old. Overall here in the city, there are not very many of them, beside the one I just mentioned, I can only thing of others that are on the waters edge. I'd bet the trees in the city go something like 50%+ Maples (mostly silver) and a portion of that being Locust, 10%-20% pine / spruce, 20% mixed hardwoods, birches, oaks, ash. The rest being a variety of different trees, many softwood, cottonwood, poplars, aspen, etc. We defiantly have a overwhelming abundance of Maples here, and I'd guess that Locust comes in second. So in this area, the willow stands out pretty well. It's unfortunate, but the vast majority of this city is filled with fairly short lived trees.


1 Like    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 11:30PM
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tophers(Z8 - Portland OR)

Jamie, I'm with you on your philosophy for planting fast-growing trees.

When I moved into my house 7 years ago, the ONLY trees present were 2 Laceleaf Japanese Maples (the small weeping variety). The previous owner did not like trees.

Since then, I've planted a Weeping Willow in the front yard (the tag said "Babylon"...has the very, very long branches and longer green/blue leaves). The willow was about 8' tall when I planted it and now it's about 25' tall and almost 30' wide. My neighbors have made a number of compliments on it...how fast it's grown, how pretty it looks in the breezes, how it's nice to see one when you see them as much anymore, etc. Unfortunately, it has Willow Scab, but I'm attempting to treat it, with advice an ISA Arborist is giving me.

I've also planted in my front and back yards, 2 River Birches, 1 'Heritage' River Birch, 1 Autumn Blaze Maple, 1 'Emperor I' Japanese Maple and 2 Golden Curls Willows. If I had a larger property, I'd plant some Legacy Trees, as well. But only recently, do I have semi-decent sized plantings in what was once a very plain landscape. Perhaps, in time, I'll start looking at replacing some of my fast-growing trees with some Legacy Trees...but I wanted to have some nice-sized trees first.

While I realize that none of my trees so far are Legacy Trees, so many times, I've seen a house sold and new owners come in and completely rip out beautiful trees, including Legacy Trees, and do something completely different. And I respect that, as the owner of the property, it's their perogative. I just figure that whenever I sell my home, the new owner will either like what I've done or not...but either way, they will do what they like with the plantings...regardless of their status (or lack thereof) as Legacy Trees. In the meantime, it's my house and I like my Weeping Willow and my other trees.

I my area, there are still a few Weeping Willows around, but not many. Within the past few months, 2 have been removed that I know of. One was the most enormous Weeping Willow I've ever seen...but last year it dropped a limb that was the size of most medium-sized trees (it was in the middle of a yard, and nothing was damaged). I would imagine that the tree needed to be removed, anyhow. Still, it was sad to see it gone.

Mostly, in my area, as far as mature plantings are concerned, you find Doug Firs, Western Red Cedar, Deodar and Atlas Cedar, different Pines and some Spruces. You also find a lot of European Weeping Birch and Jacquemonti Birch (although the Bronze Birch Borers are wiping out those 2 types of Birches with amazing speed), Black Cottonwood (native), Sweet Gum, Pin Oak, Oregon White Oak (including the native forests of them), Dogwood, Norway Maples, Crimson King Maples and Silver Maples. Red Oaks are starting to become popular now, as well as Linden. Overplanted around here are Japanese Maples (absolutely EVERYWHERE!!!), Red Sunset Maples and Armstrong Maples, plus Kwanzan Cherry and various weeping Cherry trees.

The latest trend around here is a yard that has either no trees or small-statured trees, such as Japanese Maples (no larger than 10-12' tall. This trend started with the smaller lots (

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 2:57PM
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>The previous owner did not like trees.

I hear people that say this all the time, yet I fail to understand how you can't like trees.

>.but I wanted to have some nice-sized trees first.

Sounds like you have a nice collection of fast growers going, quite similar to the trees I have planted.

It is very sad to see people removing large trees for no good reason. Way too many people will just cut down a tree that took 50 years to grow without a second thought. If they change their mind, they won't be able to get a tree like that back in their life time.

I guess a lot of people move several times during their life, so maybe they don't feel the same way I do about my yard (because I'm staying here) if they know they are going to eventually move again and start over.

What totally kills me is; Why are so many people willing to put SOOOO much effort into having the perfect freaking lawn and they can't be bothers to pick up a few branches? They will spend hours a week mowing, hundreds of dollars in chemicals, etc. Where big trees generally need none of that. Kill the grass, it's the most invasive resource sucking weed in the country. Some grass looks nice to blend in in the city and can be a functional area for people, but people are nuts about it. They will cut down trees so they can grow more grass.

Read the Winterize Your Lawn piece about half way down on this page: http://www.purewateroccasional.net/newnewsletter13.html

Drives me bonkers. I'd rather see over planted "weed / fast growing" trees than all of these chemically treated perfect lawns.

Maybe way too many people just stay inside all of the time now and that's why they don't care much about their yards... I lay out on the hammock using my ipod all the time rather than sit inside on the computer. I just came in from pulling weeds got too warm, so I'm on the computer now.

You should post some photos of your yard / trees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Winterize Your Lawn (half way down)

1 Like    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 3:51PM
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dsieber(z5 (Lakewood CO))

jamiedolan ditto "partially"

100% on the lawn front they should be banned west of the Eastern Kansas Border !!!

Fast growing trees are great in the correct location. I love willows adjacent to brooks/ponds in large properties/parks. They have no biz in a 5000 sq ft back yard. Being in Colorado I know Cottonwoods/box elders/poplars tamed the west as much as the colt 45. Out on the prairie they were the only trees that would keep the farmer's wife or farmer too from "going postal" due to the wind/sun/snow drifts. However, just today a colleague was late coming into work due to a cottonwood coming down in a suburban street due to a thunderstorm. It took out 3 cars!!!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 5:23PM
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tophers(Z8 - Portland OR)

Jamie, the article was hilarious. Thanks!

I, too, can't understand how people can't like trees. My father, Lord rest his soul, felt that trees over 10' tall were "out of control". He would pollard the Fruitless Mulberry tree in the front yard every 2 years to keep it "under control". I keep begging my mother to not continue that practice and I spent a huge amount of time attempting corrective pruning to try to regain some semblance of a natural shape.

I love trees...always have. In my baby book my mother made, it has an entry at the "3 year old" chapter that says "loves trees". As a kid, I used to make tree-filled "neighborhoods" and play with my Hot Wheels cars in those "neighborhoods". I'd take a clump of grass (roots and all), stick it on the end of a small stick and in less than an hour (when the grass was wilting)...viola'...a Weeping Willow for my Hot Wheels town. I was hopeless. Even in my teens, I'd sit in the back yard and watch the wind blow through the neighbors' Siberian Elms for hours. I loved those trees...they're still there...and when I go back home (near El Paso, TX), I will sit out and look at those trees.

I know what you mean about the never-ending quest for the perfect lawn...and I, too, have been guilty of that. Not so much anymore. My lawn has clover, dandelions and a ton of moss in it. I pick the dandelion flowers/seedheads off, but the leaves are the same green as the lawn, so I don't fight it. The clover brings the bees, so I don't mind too much clover. And the moss will grow in the places that the grass won't (too shady/wet), so again...greenage. Somewhat of it's own ecosystem, I suppose. Biodiversity is good...according to Paul James, the Gardener Guy.

I'll see about some pictures today or tomorrow.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 5:28PM
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