September 3, 2015
Trimming My Weeping Willow Trees
One of my favorite trees is the weeping willow.
Weeping willows are wide and tall with beautiful curtains of drooping branches that sweep the ground. I have several groves of weeping willow trees growing at my farm - one that includes more than 25 trees in a marshy area in one of my lower fields.
As with all trees, weeping willows need to be pruned and trimmed regularly. Major pruning is best when trees are dormant, but because these weeping willows are fast growing, they tend to drop many twigs and branches, and often need additional maintenance during spring and summer.
All my weeping willows got a little trim this week. Here are some photos…
1 Several years ago, I planted this grove of weeping willow trees at my farm - at least 25 in a marshy area in one of the lower fields.
2 Salix alba 'Tristis', or white willow, is a common and popular variety. It was brought to the United States in the 1700s by European settlers and has since naturalized in many parts of North America.
3 Weeping willows are upright, fast-growing, deciduous trees that can grow up to 80-feet tall. Because of their massive root systems, they need a fair amount of room to grow. They also prefer wet feet and are often planted on the banks of streams and rivers to prevent erosion.
4 Their long, hanging branches and feathery leaves look so pretty swaying in the winds.
5 I've planted more weeping willows in the years since I first created this grove - they are all doing beautifully. I also have tall specimens at one end of my pinetum, and down by one of my back horse paddocks.
6 Weeping willows are messy trees, and need to be trimmed several times a year to maintain their shapes and to encourage strong growth habits.
7 The weeping willows down by the run-in shelter needed a good trim - dead, broken, and low-hanging branches needed to be removed.
8 Especially if branches and leaves grow too closely to the ground. All these should be trimmed down.
9 Chhewang assessed the growth habit of each tree before trimming. Weeping willows are susceptible to wind damage, and occasionally trimming branches improves air circulation and reduces chances for breakage.
10 To trim weeping willows and many of the trees on my farm, I prefer using loppers and pole saws - manual tools that will give my trees a more natural appearance and shape.
11 A pole mounted saw should be used to prune branches without a ladder - low ones larger than an inch and a quarter.
12 Loppers can prune branches less than an inch and a quarter.
13 Three legged orchard ladders like this one provide a sturdy, three-point support when needed on uneven ground. The third leg pulls out for unique positioning over bushes or shrubs when necessary.
14 Larger branches should only be removed from mature trees when they pose hazards, or are broken or dead.
15 We noticed a couple of bird's nest while trimming also.
16 This big one was located in the upper branches of one of the willows. We did not see any activity coming from the nest, but of course, we left it undisturbed.
17 Cut branches that may crisscross others, or are in the way of healthy growth. Here was another dead branch.
18 Hand trimming allows cuts to be made at different lengths to void blunt appearances.
19 Whenever smaller branches are cut, keep in mind that this will lift the larger branches and change the shape of the skirt. Spot cutting by hand shapes the tree well.
20 Weeping willows tend to drop a lot of small twigs and branches, so it is important to keep an eye on their fast growth.
21 Pruning stimulates regrowth near the cut - remember to cut just below a leaf node.
22 Always leave the branch collar intact, the exact point at which the bench connects to the trunk.
23 Weeping willows have pretty green foliage and long, thin leaves. In the fall, the color ranges from light yellow-green to nearly blue depending on the variety.
24 Once all the trees were trimmed, any debris was raked to prevent any damage to under-plantings.
Next chore: chipping...