Fast-Growing Willow Trees for Shade and Privacy
Willow Trees are popular among landscapers and landowners, and are a favorite for those looking to add fast-growing beauty and privacy. Although there are over 400 species, the two most common and popular Willow Tree species in the United States are the Weeping Willow and the Willow Hybrid. The Weeping Willow provides fast-growing shade while the Willow Hybrid offers one of the few deciduous privacy screens available on the market. Willow Trees belong to the Salix genus. Salicylic acid courses through the tree in the form of salicin, which has been cultivated to produce aspirin. Willow Trees can reach anywhere between 35 and 75 feet tall, with most residing in the 50 foot range. Willow Trees are adaptable to varying soil conditions, though most species rely heavily on sufficient water access. The Willow Tree species discussed here grow easily throughout most of the United States.
Planting a new tree or privacy barrier can be quite an endeavor, and proper prior research is needed before purchasing and planting a new tree. Different trees have different needs, and the careful landscaper will need to provide adequate soil composition, water access, and location qualities. Before deciding on and buying a Willow Tree, review the quick-facts and detailed specific information in the following sections.
Sun: Plant in full sun to partial shade
Water: Water immediately after planting and twice per week for the first six months, unless it rains. Willow Trees depend on heavy water access; consider planting along a stream or natural water source. Willows will adapt to drier soils.
When to Plant: Spring is best.
How to Buy Willow Trees and Hedges Online
The initial cultivation of a new sapling is essential to the future success of the tree or hedge. Willow Trees are no different, and early care will help define the future growth of the plant. The Tree Center provides this care, offering the young saplings of Weeping Willows and Willow Hybrids the love and care young trees need. After deciding on which species of Willow is the best-suited to the planting location, order the tree from The Tree Center.
How to Plant Willow Trees
Planting a new tree requires careful planning. The first step is to determine which tree is the best-suited to both the needs of the landowner and the location for planting. Once the species of tree to be planted has been determined, order the sapling from The Tree Center.
Once the tree arrives, observe the root ball, or the collection of roots at the base of the tree. Dig a hole in the desired location that is three times the width of the root ball. The hole should be slightly less deep than the height of the root ball. Too deep, and the air and water the Willow Tree needs will be unable to reach the tree’s root system. This is a common mistake among first-time planters.
Once the hole has been dug, place the tree vertically in the hole. A partner is helpful. One person should hole the tree vertically while the other backfills the hole with soil and water. Adding water to the hole while filling with dirt does two things; first, it increases the moisture level of the soil, which is exceptionally beneficial to rooting Willows; second, it helps adhere the soil to itself, thus providing more stability to the root system.
After the hole is filled, apply bark or wood-chip based natural mulch in a three-foot radius around the tree’s base. This will assist with water and oxygen transference. Staking a young Willow Tree can be beneficial. Water immediately after planting.
Soil is essential to a new tree’s success. The soil composition, pH, mineral matter, water transport, and humus content all play a factor in the growth rate and overall health of a Willow Tree. Soil is classified into three main categories based on the size of the grains. Clay and silt soils are made of small particles. Clay soil sticks together, which stops the movement of air and water to the root system. Silt soil, which has slightly larger particles, will run together as well, though it is not as sticky. Sand is made of larger grains, and water and air move too quickly through this soil type. The best soil is a combination of soil grain sizes called loam. The different sized grain particles enable easy movement of water and air.
Willow Trees require moderate to heavy water access. In regions of the United States where rainfall exceeds 35 inches annually, natural rainfall amounts should be enough; however, if precipitation does not total more than an inch in a week, one heavy watering should be provided. The watering should be heavy and reach a depth of 3 feet. In regions of the United States where rainfall totals are less than 35 inches, such as the Southwest, Midwest, and north-central states, irrigation systems can be used to compensate for inadequate rainfall. Additionally, Willow Trees are often successful when planted along the banks of streams, rivers, or lakes.
Mulch and Fertilizer
Mulch and fertilizer can help encourage successful tree growth. Mulch is helpful for all types of trees, Willows included. Mulch helps enable easy transport of water and air to the Willow Tree’s root systems. Soils can harden and either dissipate water quickly or cause severe run-off, wasting valuable rainfall or irrigative supplies. Mulch helps to break up the surface area surrounding the tree, which helps to retain additional water and oxygen. Furthermore, natural-based mulches, like those composed of wood chips or bark, will decompose over time adding nutrient-rich matter to the soil surrounding the Willow Tree.
Fertilizers are often unnecessary, and these can be harmful to trees if used improperly. If fertilizers are necessary due to poor soil conditions, consider a well-balanced fertilizer, either a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Information on Willow Trees
Willow Trees are prized for their unique physical structure. The “weeping” quality associated with Weeping Willows arises from the sinewy branches that bend toward the ground, off of which grow hundreds of small, alternating leaves. These leaves brush the ground. Willow Trees are a favorite among tree loves for these unique qualities. Willows have been used for thousands of years; a fishing net dated from 8,300 B.C. was found to be made of Willow. Baskets are often made of Willow weave, as the tree is bendable.
Willow Tree Varieties and Cultivars
There are over 400 cultivars of Willow trees in the Salix genus. Some willows grow close to the ground, less than 6 centimeters above the soil, while others stretch to 70 feet in height. The most popular Willow cultivars, though, are the Weeping Willow Tree and the Willow Hybrid.
The most famous of the Willows is the Weeping Willow, a hybrid between two other Willow species. The Weeping Willow Tree is known for its 60 foot tall heights followed by drooping boughs. The name of the tree comes from the appearance of raindrops falling from its green leaves in spring; the branches almost sweep the ground and raindrops falling from the leaves are reminiscent of tears. These medium-sized deciduous trees do not live long, often reaching the end of their lifespan within 30 to 40 years. Be cautious when planting Weeping Willows that they are far from septic systems or building foundations. The tenacious roots have been known to cause damage to these. Weeping Willows are prone to infestations of gypsy moths, who feed on the leaves. Additionally, Willow Scab, caused by a fungus named Venturia saliciperda, causes blackish-brown spots on the leaves.
Willow Hybrids are popular privacy screens, and one of the few privacy barriers made of a deciduous tree. Planted as an accent or individual tree, Willow Hybrids can reach between 50 and 75 feet; however, when planted as privacy screens, the trees only reach a modest 35 to 45 feet in height. Plant Willow Hybrids five feet apart in a single row if seeking a secure privacy screen. The fast-growth of the Willow Hybrid is astounding, often growing 6 feet a year. The trees will expand to a width of 20 to 30 feet. These trees prefer full to partial sun and moderate water access.
Benefits of Willow Trees
Willow Trees are beneficial trees to plant. For first time gardeners, young Willow Tree saplings are easy to manage. They are also a fast-growing tree, which will quickly provide both aesthetic beauty and generous shade quickly. These trees grow between 6 and 8 feet a year. Willow Trees provide diversity in privacy screen development, as their deciduous qualities vary from the more common evergreen privacy barriers. These Willow Trees are adaptable and manage poor soil with relative ease.
Willow Tree Concerns
Although Willow Trees are popular and easy-to-grow, they are susceptible to several smaller pests. Furthermore, Willow Trees do have strict requirements with water. Moderate to heavy rainfall or irrigation services are necessary. Finally, Willow Trees’ fast growth carries through to root growth, which can cause damages to property if planted too close to septic tanks or building foundations.