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How to Plant Weeping Willow Trees

By Melody Lee ; Updated September 21, 2017

Weeping willows (Salix spp.) grow as large, graceful trees with long, drooping branches. They flourish near ponds, lakes or streams, but will grow in drier areas too. Willows grow in full sun to partial shade in any type of soil. Weeping willows reach 35 to 45 feet tall and wide. Their surface roots bulge above the ground and can spread as much as three times the width of the tree’s canopy. Plant weeping willow trees far away from sidewalks, sewer lines and driveways.

Plant weeping willows after the predicted date of the last spring frost, and at least six weeks before the predicted date of the first fall frost. Do not plant weeping willows during periods of extreme heat.

Buy a weeping willow tree from a reputable local or online nursery. Choose a tree with a single trunk that has no injuries on the trunk or limbs. Check for signs of stress, such as dying or dead leaves or black, mushy roots.

Place the tree in a shaded place and water well with a water hose. Chose a location to plant the tree at least 50 feet from power lines, and 150 feet from septic tanks, drain fields and water or sewer lines.

Use a hoe and rake to remove the grass and weeds from an area at least 12 inches wider than the canopy of the tree. Use a shovel to dig a hole in the middle of the area twice as big as the root ball of the tree and 6 to 12 inches deeper than the root ball.

Remove the tree from its container and set it in the planting hole. Use your hand or foot to push some of the loosened soil into the bottom of the hole so the tree sets at the same depth as it did in the container.

Backfill around the rootball of the tree, using your hand or foot to firmly tamp down the soil. Do not mound the soil up around the trunk of the tree.

Spread a layer of mulch 4 to 6 inches deep around the tree. Do not mound the mulch up against on the trunk of the tree.

Water the tree thoroughly. Continue watering at least every other day for 4 to 6 weeks to allow the roots to become established.


Things You Will Need

  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Shovel
  • Mulch


  • The roots of weeping willows are very aggressive and will grow into septic tanks, drain fields and water and sewer lines. The surface roots can dislocate pathways, sidewalks and driveways and interfere with mowing.

About the Author


Melody Lee holds a degree in landscape design, is a Florida Master Gardener, and has more than 30 years of gardening experience. She currently works as a writer and copy editor. Her previous jobs include reporter, photographer and editor for a weekly newspaper.