The willow tree is one of those trees that can bring any lawn or landscape to life. Its mysterious, whip-like branches hang low toward the ground, covered with slender light green leaves. Willow trees can grow to staggering heights of 45 to 50 feet and can reach a width of 35 feet. Commonly grown for shade trees, willow trees must be maintained regularly by pruning, much like other trees.
Disinfect your pruning shears and garden loppers using rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth, before pruning your first willow tree. Also disinfect your pruning shears and garden loppers before moving onto another tree, to prevent the spread of any disease that may be present.
Prune only the bottom portion of the willow tree in the fall before the tree slips into dormancy for the winter. Willow trees usually do not require pruning of the upper portions of the tree. Trim the whip-like branches using your clean pruning shears. Willow branches grow to hang close to the ground, but trim them so they do not touch the ground. Trim the weeping branches so that there is approximately 3 to 4 feet between the tip of the branch to the ground.
Step underneath the willow tree, so you will have easy access to the trunk and innermost branches of the tree. Use garden loppers to cut away any branches that are shooting out of the trunk, close to the ground. Cut these branches even with the main trunk of the willow tree.
Look for branches that are rubbing against each other. These branches should be pruned, so they do not rub one another. Branches rubbing together can easily cause breakage.
Pick up any branches that you have removed from the willow tree. Do away with the branches at a designated dumping area or into your compost pile. Do not leave any branches or clippings laying on the grass or underlying plants.