Earlier this week I was asked where someone could locate a weeping willow tree. Then, I came across the same subject in a Facebook forum I follow. The truth is, I rarely suggest planting a weeping willow unless you have a watering hole big enough to keep the tree’s thirst quenched so it doesn’t go looking for water elsewhere, ie. your underground water pipes.
There are plenty of other, much less thirsty weeping trees that can make your landscape beautiful. Here is a list of 5 trees to plant instead of a damaging weeping willow.
This ornamental comes in a multitude of cultivars, some with a natural weeping habit and others that are grafted for a more formal look. If you like the former, look for the gorgeous pink weeping Higan cherry which will get fairly large at 20-25 feet high and wide. If you want something smaller, look for the grafted beauty Snow Fountains that slowly reaches a height of 10-15 feet high and wide.
This cool and unusual ornamental mulberry grows all the way to the ground and is so lush that it is often used as a hide away for kids. Plant this tree as a specimen in a small garden and watch it shine. Adult size can be small at about 15 feet.
The first evergreen on the list is quite an amazing weeper. Although different from the deciduous weepers, Chamecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ still lends a sense of whimsy and charm to the landscape. Plant this towering, dramatic tree in full sun and give it plenty of room to spread out.
This small wonder is a sight to behold. Each branch is uniformly grafted on the sides of the trunk to make an unnatural looking waterfall. Add to that it’s early Spring blossoms of purple and its heart shaped, dark burgundy leaves and you have a winner. This work of art is a perfect specimen within a perennial or pollinator garden as it tops out at 8 feet tall which will create hardly any shade around sun loving plants
Hailing from China, this Asian beauty boasts some wonderful, bright yellow fall foliage. During the Spring and Summer, the flowing branches sport blue-green leaves reaching all the way down to the ground. This ornamental tree can get quite large at 25 feet tall and 15 feet wide so give it room to grow.
Before planting your weeping tree, there are a few things you should do first. Test your soil to make sure your new tree will have the right mixture of pH and nutrients to establish and grow happily. If you have clay soils, choose a good soil conditioner and compost to mix in to the backfill for healthy growth of new roots.
Next prepare the hole. The Arbor Day Foundation suggests digging a hole 3 to 4 times wider than the container the tree is in but only as deep as the container itself. After backfilling the hole (with your added amendments recommended by the soil test), create a circular water basin with soil around the tree to help hold water in the root zone.
Last, make sure to mulch under the tree to help control moisture. Water is key to helping new roots form so take care to help the tree as much as possible.
Weeping trees can be used in a wide variety of ways. Plant smaller ones in flower beds to add height and interest. The larger ones are best as a specimen of interest in your yard. No matter which one you plant, rest assured you’ll be the talk of the neighborhood for years to come.