How to Transplant Weeping Willow Trees


According to the University of Minnesota, weeping willow is the cultivar of willow tree most commonly used for landscaping. These trees have a drooping, pendulous habit. The tree is fast-growing and may reach up to 50 feet in height. According to Washington State University, willow trees are also the easiest plants to move in a landscape because the willow's roots will regrow even if up to 85 percent of the tree's roots are missing.

Step 1

Time root pruning your willow tree a year before transplant to help the tree develop feeder roots. This will make the root ball easier to handle and increase the chances that the tree will survive transplant.

Step 2

Measure the trunk of the tree with a pair of calipers at a point 4 feet off the ground. Multiply the tree's diameter by 5 inches. This is the diameter of circle you need to prune the roots around your willow tree. For example, you should root prune a tree in a 10-inch circle if the trunk is 2 inches thick.

Step 3

Insert a spade into the ground at a 45-degree angle pointed toward the tree. Place the spade at a distance from the trunk that is half of the distance that you figured in Step 2. Maintain this distance as you insert the spade into the ground in a circle around the tree's trunk.

Step 4

Time transplanting your willow tree for early spring while the tree is still dormant to lessen the shock of transplanting it.

Step 5

Insert a shovel into the ground at a point 2 inches farther from the tree than your root pruning line from the previous year. Work the shovel in a circle around the tree.

Step 6

Lift the tree's root ball by slipping the shovel under the root ball and tilting it back.

Step 7

Prepare the new location for the tree by digging a hole that is twice as big as the current root ball, but no deeper.

Step 8

Carry the tree by the root ball to the new location. Place the root ball into the hole and fill in the space around the tree with soil. Pat the root ball to dislodge any air pockets and fill in with soil. Water the tree to keep the soil around the tree as damp as a wrung out sponge until the tree's roots can become established.

Things You'll Need

  • Calipers
  • Spade
  • Shovel


  • Washington State University Extension: How to Transplant Trees and Shrubs Successfully
  • University of Tennessee Extension: Successfully Transplanting Established Trees
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension:Pruning Ornamental Trees and Shrubs

Who Can Help

  • Iowa State University Extension: Transplanting Trees and Shrubs
Keywords: transplanting weeping willows, moving landscaping trees, root pruning plants

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."