Characteristics of a Weeping Willow

Although it is generally considered too large for an urban lot, the weeping willow tree (Salix spp.) is often planted in large suburban lots or alongside bodies of water on public lands. Its large, pendulous habit is spectacular against the wide-open areas of a body of water, and it has a tendency to soften the appearance of the nearby shoreline. Keep them away from drain pipes or septic systems; the aggressive root systems of weeping willows seek out water and may damage them.

Size and Shape

Weeping willows are large deciduous trees, often growing to a mature height of 35 to 45 feet, with a spread that is usually greater than the height. The tree's dense crown grows broad and rounded as it matures. Individual weeping willow trees all have virtually identical-looking crowns. Their 3- to 6-inch long leaves turn bright yellow in autumn.

Growth Habit

Forming a dense, rounded crown, weeping willows are fast-growing. They require pruning and training when young so they develop a strong central trunk and wide-angled branch crotches to reduce breakage of the brittle wood. Their brittle, light green, long, pendulous branches are often broken by the wind, and the litter can create an ongoing mess beneath them. Branches often grow long enough to touch the ground as they hang down. Their shallow surface roots can raise sidewalks and interfere with lawn mowing. Even though they are fast-growing, they only live approximately 30 years. Most varieties of weeping willow are reliably hardy in USDA zones 2 through 9.

Growth Requirements

Weeping willow prefers full sun to partial shade in an area large enough to accommodate its mature size. Locate it close to a body of water in an area where the soil around it will be undisturbed. Willows tolerate all types of soil, even extended flooding. They have a high tolerance for drought conditions and salt spray. Weeping willows are bothered by fungal diseases, which can be controlled by pruning out the affected branches.

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About this Author

Sharon Sweeny has a college degree in general studies and worked as an administrative and legal assistant for 20 years before becoming a freelance writer in 2008. She specializes in writing about home improvement, self-sufficient lifestyles and gardening.