How to Prune a Weeping Willow


The weeping willow is a graceful deciduous shade tree, which is often seen growing along a body of water. It is a fast-growing tree with an extensive root system and round crown. The weeping willow can reach a height of 30 to 40 feet, and a spread of 35 feet. The weeping willow will require pruning for the following reasons: to remove diseased or damaged/broken branches, to control its size (width) in your landscape design, for safety reasons (to keep it away from structures, roofs, and walkways), to provide access underneath the tree and to remove any suckers.

Step 1

Prune any dead, damaged, broken or diseased branches immediately, by making your cut at the breaking point or by cutting off the entire branch. Make sure that you make a clean cut, one without any torn or ragged edges. (Clean cuts allow the plant to heal correctly.) This can be done at any time during the year.

Step 2

Visually inspect your tree to determine if you need to prune any branches to maintain its size within your landscape design, or to insure safety. Find the branch collar (on the underside of the branch where it connects to the trunk) and the branch bark ridge (on the topside of the branch where it connects to the trunk). Make your cut right in front of the branch bark ridge and the branch collar. Be careful not to cut into the branch collar or the branch bark ridge, and do not leave a stub. The branch collar and branch bark ridge should be unharmed for the health and integrity of the tree. Pruning should be done when the tree is in its dormant state---winter or early spring.

Step 3

Prune away any low-hanging branches that interfere with your access underneath the tree. This of course is a personal preference; you may want to leave the drooping branches, and that is your choice.

Step 4

Look for suckers (growth from the ground to the trunk, which can also be seen growing up from the roots). Cut away any suckers, as they drain the tree of nutrients.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not deposit any diseased plant material in your compost bin. Clean your pruning equipment after cutting off diseased plant material by dipping them in bleach or alcohol. Do not prune branches that are in close proximity to electric wires, as this is extremely dangerous. Pruning should be done by the electric company.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruning shears
  • Lopping shears
  • Pole pruner
  • Tree saw


  • Save A Tree
  • Arbor Day Foundation
  • Fast Growing Trees Nursery
Keywords: weeping willow prune, branches broken diseased damaged, cut away remove deciduous

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.