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Everything You Need To Know about Weeping Willow Trees

Weeping willow trees are a classic for a reason—these gently arching beauties add drama and elegance to any landscape.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 05/31/2024

Weeping willow trees have long been prized for their delicate, weeping branches that graze the ground with fluttering, silver-tinged leaves. Their form flows into a pleasing, round canopy. Not only do they provide food for rabbits and deer, their branches are ideal for nesting birds. Weeping willows do very well planted near water, where they can prevent soil erosion. However, their roots can cause problems if planted too close to a home. In this guide, we’ll give you an overview of the weeping willow, its benefits and drawbacks as a landscaping feature, and how to plant one.

Weeping Willow Trees at a Glance

Classic, graceful shape
Help prevent soil erosion
Tolerate many soil types
Leaves turn warm yellow in the fall
Provide excellent shade
Prone to pest issues


Weeping willow trees are famed for their dramatic, elegant appearance. Their long, graceful branches “weep” into an arch, creating a round canopy that grazes the ground gently. Their narrow leaves are light green on top, with silvery undersides that turn yellow in autumn. The bark is rough, gray, and ridged. Yellow flowers bloom in late winter or spring.

Weeping willow trees can grow to be 30–50 feet tall, with a spread of roughly 30–40 feet.

Weeping Willow Tree Specifications


Graceful, ground-sweeping branches form a rounded shape. Long, narrow, light-green leaves with silvery undersides that turn yellow in fall. Yellow flowers in late winter/spring.


30–50 feet

Hardiness Zones

Zones 4–10

Type of tree


Sunlight requirements

Full sun to partial shade

Soil composition

Widely adaptable, but prefers slightly acidic, well-draining, and moist soil

Hardiness Zones

USDA Hardiness Zones indicate the regions where different plants grow best, depending on their lowest winter temperatures. Weeping willows thrive in Zones 4–10, across most of the country save for the most northern states.


Keep in mind that many landscapers don’t recommend weeping willow trees for residential planting. They’re easy to grow but difficult to keep alive, thanks to their vulnerability to pets and disease. Most importantly, they have long, invasive roots that can interfere with underground pipes or even compromise a home’s foundation.

If you do choose to plant a weeping willow, the best place is beside a body of water and at least 50 feet away from any manmade structure. Choose a growing site that receives full sun to partial shade, with moist, well-draining, slightly acidic soil, and follow the steps below.

  1. Pull any weeds from the planting site.
  2. Dig a hole twice the width of your root ball, but about the same depth.
  3. Take the root ball out of the container and gently tease apart its roots, then place it in the middle of the hole.
  4. Backfill the hole with soil halfway, then pour 2 gallons of water into it.
  5. Finish filling the hole with soil, tamping down lightly to remove any air bubbles.

Weeping willow trees also propagate very easily from cuttings. Take a cutting that’s about the diameter of a pencil and 12–18 inches long. Loosen the soil where you wish to plant it to a depth of about 18 inches, and sink the base of the cutting 6–8 inches down. Water the soil well and keep it moist.

Considering planting a weeping willow in your yard? Here’s what they need to grow and thrive.

Weeping willow trees flourish in full sun to partial shade, meaning they need at least four hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day.

Weeping willows are tolerant of many soil types, including alkaline, loamy, sandy, and clay soils. However, their preference is for moist, well-draining, slightly acidic soils. If your soil is too alkaline, you can make it more acidic by amending it with sulfur.

You need to water your weeping willow weekly for the first year after planting. Afterwards, you only need to water it enough so that the soil doesn’t dry out. You can test this by sticking your index finger into the surrounding soil. If the top 2 inches don’t feel moist, you need to water.

In general, weeping willows do not need fertilizer to grow healthy and hardy. If your weeping willow tree’s leaves are looking pale, you can apply a balanced tree-specific fertilizer, with an NPK ratio of 20-20-20, in spring.

For best growth, prune your weeping willow when it is young, cutting it so that there is one central leader. Snipping back all branches in late winter or early spring is advisable, because it will encourage new branch growth and invigorate your tree. As it grows, try to keep the crown balanced on all sides.

Weeping willows are susceptible to willow scab, willow blight, black canker, fungi, powdery mildew, root rot, and more. Pest issues include aphids, gypsy moths, and borers. Consult with a lawn care specialist or pest control professional to help alleviate these issues.

FAQ About Weeping Willow Trees

Where should I plant a weeping willow?

Weeping willow trees do best when planted in areas that receive full sun to partial shade, in slightly acidic, moist soil. They should not be planted in areas that have extremely cold temperatures in winter.

How far should I plant a weeping willow tree from my house?

Make sure to plant your weeping willow at least 50 feet away from your house, as the roots can cause problems around foundations as well as water and sewer pipes.

What are the disadvantages of planting a weeping willow tree?

Weeping willows are not often recommended for home landscapes because they create a lot of litter, they are prone to pests and disease, and their roots can become invasive.

Are all willow trees weeping?

No, some species of willow tree have more traditional shapes with upright branches.

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