How to Prune Pacific Willow


The Pacific willow is one of the largest Western willows. It can be found under two scientific names: Salix lasiandra and Salix lucida. This is a useful plant for wetland areas and is found naturally along river and stream banks. Its range is Western Canada, Alaska and the throughout the Western United States. The most common reasons to grow this plant are as a wind break, for bank stabilization and for screening. Pacific willow will grow quickly to 40 feet and develop a woody trunk, so plant this one where it has ample space.

How to Prune Pacific Willow

Step 1

Evaluate the site. If you have planted Pacific willow as a wind break, leave more branches intact. The roots are more important and the trees can be pruned back more to encourage lower growth when used as a bank stabilizer. To keep it as a small multistemmed tree, remove some of the larger stems.

Step 2

Prune the Willow. The best time to prune is in the early spring or late fall. Pacific willow will develop leaves all along the stem. Cut anywhere just below a cluster of leaves. The leaves will then cover the cut and improve the appearance. Over time this tree will develop a woody trunk. To reduce the overall size, remove entire branches at the base of the tree using a pruning saw.

Step 3

Make use of the twigs. Willows are easy to grow from cuttings. Use wood that is 1/2 inch in diameter, two to three feet long, and pliable. Right after cutting, poke the branch into the moist soil near your willows. As long as the ground remains moist the twigs should take root. Willow twigs can be used to make baskets. Pliable narrow twigs work best. Weave with them right away or keep them submerged in water until needed.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruners
  • Saw
  • Knife


  • USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services
  • Gardening With Native Plants, Arthur R. kruckeberg, 1992
Keywords: basket, wetland plant, bank stabilization, wind break, screen

About this Author

Marci Degman has been a landscape designer and horticulture writer since 1997. She has an Associate of Applied Science in landscape technology and landscape design from Portland Community College. Degman writes a newspaper column for the "Hillsboro Argus" and radio tips for KUIK. Her teaching experience for Portland Community College has set the pace for her to write online instructional articles.