Repairing damaged shorelines is an effective way to maintain water purity, provide shelter for wildlife and stop soil erosion. Willow trees are natural choices for shoreline restoration, according to Ontario's Rideau Valley Conservation Authority Landowner's Resource Center. Willows have shallow root systems that solidify shoreline soils.Their dense branches provide wind and flood protection. Thriving in wet locations, willows also make good choices for home landscape water features.
Peach-leaf willow (Salix amygdaloides) thrives across the northern U.S. plains, where it grows on the perimeter of marshes and streams. Its single or multiple trunks can rise up to 50 feet high, with delicate arching branches and orange twigs. The tree's yellow-green leaves resemble those of peach trees, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Birds and mammals feed on its seeds. Flourishing in sun or shade, peach-leaf willow likes moist or wet, loamy pH-neutral soil.
Not native to the lower 48 U.S. states, littletree willow (Salix arbusculoides) is a small, thicket forming tree prominent throughout Alaska's interior. It's recognizable from its glossy brownish red twigs and wide crown. Littletree willow has green buds that open into downy catkins in March and April. It often grows with paper birch and white spruce trees.This willow likes partial to full shade and moist soil, notes the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.
Standing 20 to 30 feet high, Bebb willow (Salix bebbiana) has a narrow form with attractive silvery foliage against grayish-maroon bark. The diamond patterns that fungi create on trees in poor soil or shade make wood from this and littletree willow desirable for furniture, canes and other commercial items. This tree thrives in the Northeastern and Western United States along shorelines, in wetlands and where forest fires have cleared upland locations. Like most willows, advises the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, it's vulnerable to wind damage and numerous pests and diseases.
Golden Willow "Vitellina"
Native to Eurasia, golden willow (Salix alba) "Vitellina" is a popular home landscape tree. Its gracefully drooping branches have narrow, lance-shaped foliage with green surfaces and silvery undersides. Yellow-green spring catkins emerge from its downy, yellow buds. Growing up to 55 feet high and wide, golden willow provides shade as well as shoreline appeal, according to North Dakota State University's Department of Agriculture. Happy along stream banks and ponds, it also performs in moist, deep loam. It tolerates highly acidic or highly alkaline soils (pH from 5.5 to 8.0), while providing food for birds and mammals.