The weeping willow is a very graceful and romantic tree. Its long thin branches drape toward the ground and sway with each passing breeze. They are very tolerant of wet areas and are often planted along streams or around lakes. Weeping willows have been planted in flood-prone areas for the purpose of soaking up excess water. They have an incredible root system that will travel far to find water during dry periods. For this reason, planting should take place far away from water and sewer lines. The tree is hardy in zones 4 through 9.
Choose a location that will shade the young tree during the heat of the summer. Weeping willow can handle full sun after a year or two, but not the first year. However, it may grow 18 feet the first year, so growing the entire time in a container is not practical. The location should also be well away from your home water and sewer lines. On the edge of a lake or stream in your yard is ideal.
Dig a hole twice as deep and wide as the root ball of the tree. Place a small amount of slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer (follow manufacturer's directions) in the bottom of the hole.
Amend the soil that you've dug out with 1 part compost to 2 parts original soil. Fill in the hole to the level you will place the tree. The tree should be planted at the same level as it was in the container you purchased it in.
Place the root ball in the hole and fill around the roots with a couple of inches of soil. Water in the soil to compact it around the roots and fill in any air pockets. Continue to add a couple of inches of soil and water until the root ball is completely covered. Tamp the soil down around the crown of the root ball.
Water the tree for a long period of time every other day for 2 weeks to allow the roots to establish themselves. Then cut the watering back to when the top of the soil feels dry. Water more in hot, dry weather. This tree will benefit from watering all year long, even once a month while dormant.
Remove any weeds or grass in a 2- to 3-foot diameter around the trunk. Pick any new weeds as they come up for the first couple of weeks and then mulch with 2 inches of pine bark mulch to keep the weeds down and to conserve water. This will also keep the roots cooler in the heat of the summer.
Fertilize once a year, in the spring, with 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer applied to the soil around the tree. Do not allow the fertilizer to contact the crown or trunk of the tree. Apply to moist soil and water in well. Read the manufacturer's directions as to the amount you need to apply.