How to Trim Weeping Willows


Weeping willow, hardy in zones 2 to 9A, is commonly found near riverbanks or ponds since it prefers this boggy environment. Whether your weeping willow is near a river or serves as a landscape tree, those long branches need periodic maintenance in order to keep the tree healthy. Prune weeping willow either in the fall, before frost sets in, or in the spring, once frost danger has passed.

Step 1

Trim back the tips of any branches that are dragging on the ground using anvil pruners. Shorten the branches back to just before a bud, or swollen part of the branch.

Step 2

Remove branches that cross or rub against other branches, since this pressure causes stress and may damage the tree. Use anvil pruners for branches thinner than 3/4 inch in diameter and lopping shears for larger growth. Thin out areas of heavy growth in the tree canopy to promote better air circulation, which keeps weeping willows healthy. Cut away some growth from heavy areas to thin; choose to remove either weak shoots or older growth.

Step 3

Prune away any branches that point vertically up since this detracts from the appearance of a weeping tree.

Step 4

Cut off any suckers that grow from the tree trunk by clipping them with the anvil pruners.

Things You'll Need

  • Anvil pruners
  • Lopping shears


  • Johnson County Master Gardeners: Prune Weeping Trees and Shrubs
  • United States Forest Service: Weeping Willow (PDF)
Keywords: prune willow tree, trim weeping willow, weeping willow pruning

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.