How to Transplant a Weeping Willow


The graceful limbs of a weeping willow adds a special nuance to the landscape with gently flowing branches that move readily in a breeze. Willows provide a beautiful ornamental tree that requires constant maintenance with fabulous results. Transplanting a weeping willow requires careful planning for location due to the intensive spreading nature of the roots. Willow tree roots seek out water sources underground and can damage nearby water lines with rampant root growth.

Step 1

Select a location featuring full sun preferably near a lake, stream or river and well away from sewer and water lines. Choose this area based on the mature size of the weeping willow. These trees grow up to 50 feet tall with a wide canopy of flowing branches up to 40 feet wide.

Step 2

Turn over the soil using a spade shovel, rototiller or cultivator to a depth of at least 12 to 18 inches in the planting area. Add a 3- to 4-inch layer of peat moss or compost to increase the organic composition of the soil. Mix this into the planting bed to a 12-inch depth.

Step 3

Dig a hole two times as deep and wide as the root ball of the weeping willow. Place the excess soil near the planting hole and add four to five shovels full of peat or compost. Mix this up to use later when filling in around the roots of the weeping willow tree.

Step 4

Place the plant into the hole to gauge positioning. The root ball should lie about 1 to 2 inches below the garden surface. Add or remove soil from the hole as needed to reach this perfect position.

Step 5

Cut the twine holding burlap wrap into place. Leave the burlap in place when planting the willow tree. If the plant has any plastic pot or wrapper, remove it completely from the root ball before planting.

Step 6

Place the weeping willow in the hole and fill in around the roots halfway. Water the root ball and allow the water to penetrate the soil in the hole. Continue filling the hole until it reaches garden level. Firm gently with your hands to remove air pockets. Avoid stepping on the soil to firm it since this can snap the roots.

Step 7

Water deeply around the base of the tree and monitor moisture levels to help the plant acclimate to its new home. Keep the soil evenly moist during the first 3 years to encourage root growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Rototiller or cultivator (optional)
  • Peat moss or compost
  • Knife
  • Garden hose and water


  • North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Weeping Willow
  • University of Florida: Weeping Willow
Keywords: transplant weeping willows, weeping willows, planting willow trees

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.