The Q&A Archives: Weeping Willow

Question: My weeping willow was huge and thriving. I noticed at the root, the lawnmower cut one of the roots and it is soft and falling apart. The tree is huge and that was the only root affected (4 inches diameter). One branch was dead on that side on the bottom. The rest of the tree was fine until this week. The tree looks like it is dying completely. We saw cicada shells at the bottom of the tree and it has been very dry. We have a sprinkler system that gets it daily at 2am. I fee like we are going to lose the gigantic tree in a week if I don't do something

Answer: Willow trees have many, many roots so I don't think the damage to a single root would cause your tree distress. However, injuries are great places for insect and diseases to get a foothold and invade your tree. I'd dig around the root and saw off the damaged part so the root has a clean cut (which will callous over and heal). Remove any soft, mushy root parts from the soil before burying the newly sawed-off root back in the soil. Cicadas can cause terrible damage to weeping willows; if you see longitudinal scars on the dead branches and the dieback is beyond the point of the scar, then the cicada is probably the culprit. Remove any dead or dying branches so the tree can channel its energy into healthy new growth. Hope the damage isn't too extensive and that your tree will survive. The good news is we won't see cicadas again for another 15 years.

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