Willow tree on a lawn.

When and How to Prune the Willow Tree

Willows (Salix) look great grown as pollards. Let a single stem grow to about 5 ft (1.5 m) tall, and prune so that new growth develops at the top, creating a head of colorful young stems.

When to start: Late winter or early spring.

At their best: Winter.

Time to complete: 1 hour.

You will need: Willow plant, clippers, pruning shears or saw, all-purpose granular fertilizer.

Remove weak growth

When the leaves fall in autumn, neaten the plant by pruning out weak and damaged stems, and remove any shoots from the main trunk.

Prune to one or two buds

Before new growth appears in spring, use clippers to cut back every stem to one or two buds. Use a pruning saw to remove larger material.

After pruning

The shrub will look strange after pruning but don’t panic; it will quickly regrow. Give it an annual feed of all-purpose granular fertilizer, worked into the soil around the base of the plant. Use the cut stems to support perennials in spring and summer.