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Problems With Weeping Willow Trees

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Choosing a tree for the home landscape requires careful planning. Like a piece of furniture, this tree will grow and thrive with proper placement on your property. The weeping willow offer a graceful addition to a landscape provided the cultivar has plenty of room to grow. Weeping willow trees can have physical problems and often create problems for homeowners when these tall trees aren't placed properly in the landscape. Address problems with weeping willow trees with proper placement and attentive year-round care.

Drought Conditions

The rapidly growing weeping willow tree thrives in moist soil with a ready water source. For this reason, landscapers frequently place willows around ponds or lakes. Planting a weeping willow in the home landscape requires careful monitoring of water levels. Leaf drop and brittle branches indicate too little water. Weeping willows are often thought of as messy trees. The plant continually sheds leaves and branches. Normal leaf-and-branch shedding differs from drought-induced loss, according to the University of Florida Extension.


Willow scab refers to the discoloration of tree leaves and branches with black or brown spots and cankers, according to University of Florida Extension. This blight is a fungal infection that attacks newly developing areas of the tree. Willow scab causes leaf-and-branch drop. The fungus remains in the plant debris littering the tree base and presents the problem of continued infection. Treatment involves pruning infected branches as well as continual clean up and disposal of damaged leaves. Willow scab fungus will survive on old dried leaves.

Inadequate Pruning

Owners of weeping willow trees face constant maintenance to clean up plant debris and limit potential damage to the tree. The weight of drooping branches causes immense weight on the crown of the tree. Young trees require careful pruning to create a strong center trunk to support mature crown weight. Weeping willows frequently experience damage from snow, ice or wind that can permanently damage a poorly pruned tree.

Invasive Roots

The beauty of these graceful trees often encourages homeowners to install willows too close to the home. Willows actively seek out water sources such as drainage culverts, sewers or water lines. Deep, invasive roots easily penetrate into water lines to cause damage to underground water sources. Location remains the single largest problem with weeping willows. Placement requires the accommodation of a mature size of up to 50 feet and expansion to up to 40 feet in width. Reserve weeping willows for large properties and plant specimens in locations well away from water, electrical, cable or sewage lines, according to North Carolina State University Extension.

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