The Q&A Archives: pruning a weeping tree

Questioner's Location: Chicago, Il
Date: April 30, 2009

Question: Can you tell me how and when to prune a Weeping Pussy Willow Tree? Or, info on pruning any dwarf weeping tree. Thank you, Mike

Answer: Over time, the head of a weeping tree or shrub often forms a very dense tangle of branches just above the graft union. This dense tangle of branches can cause the tree or shrub to become top-heavy and more prone to damage in high winds, heavy snow or ice. To create a more open head, the crown must be thinned. This is most easily done when the tree or shrub is dormant and the structure of the tree can be seen. (An exception is for weeping willows. Prune them immediately after the catkins have finished showing. If you prune weeping willows in the winter, you'll lose the catkin display in the spring.) Weeping trees and shrubs should also be pruned to allow good air circulation. Near the top of the plant, branches should be spaced approximately 2 inches apart. With proper branch spacing, the wind will filter through the tree or shrub instead of pushing against it.

Here are the steps.
First, trim the tips of any branches that drag on the ground. Then begin removing any upward growing branches and any branches that are crossing or rubbing. Remove smaller branches first, working up to larger branches. Prune carefully and continually check the shape of the crown. The crown should be balanced around the tree.

Hope this provides some guidance. Enjoy your weeping willow!

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