Willow Tree Pruning

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by dave8001251, Mar 5, 2007.

  1. dave8001251

    dave8001251 Member

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    Hi
    I checked the right time of year to prune my willow tree and a book said January to March, on Friday last I took a chain saw to it but I think I went a little too far.
    My wife was in tears when she saw what I had done, the neighbours had been complaining about the size. Do you think I have killed it or will it grow again over the next few years. I feel such an idiot and would like to sleep in my own bed again soon!
    ;-)
    Dave
     

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  2. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    The tree will live OK, willows are very tolerant of massive pruning (you could cut it back to a stump and it will still re-sprout).

    However, the exposed wood will start to decay, which means you will be left in a few years with very weak, rotting branches carrying a heavy load of new branches. A recipe for problems in the future. So you will need to repeat the exercise every 4-5 years from now on, to reduce the weight so it does not disintegrate (this process of repeated branch removal is called pollarding; it is an old traditional form of tree management for wood production, but is generally considered unsightly as an ornament).

    One other problem for the future - remove the swing, before someone gets on it and the branch snaps with the extra weight!
     
  3. dave8001251

    dave8001251 Member

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    Thanks for the advice, the swing will come down, but not using the chain saw, my wife has made me promise to sell it!
    Dave
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    As suggested, you could pollard it or stool it. I prefer them stooled, with only a small section of ugly old trunk down near the ground.
     
  5. dave8001251

    dave8001251 Member

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    Yeah right, I am in the dog house already, if I make a stool out of it I am literally signing my own divorce papers. I think I will take my chances with Pollarding and hope to get some growth back.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    Unless vigor of tree was falling off you'll get lots of vigorous re-growth, which will have to be cut back to the existing head every March. It would be easier to be doing this near ground level, back to a single stump (with fewer sprouts) instead of multiple stumps perched up in the air.

    You've already set a process in motion that will not be improved by doing nothing from now on. Maybe try finding some pictures of stooled willows on the web or in pruning books, with attending discussions, and showing those to her.
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    It doesn't have to be every March; once every 4 or 5 years will be OK, and will allow a larger crown to develop before cutting again. Old traditional pollards were often cut on that sort of rotation to supply small poles for building work, etc.
     
  8. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    If this tree has normal vigor it will be much harder to cut back if let go for even a few years. Once it became well established my goldtwig willow soon began growing enough new wood after every pruning to make a big pile, the times I have skipped even one year has resulted in a headache when I got back around to doing it, with lots of long trunks that had to be dealt with.
     
  9. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    I have the perfect picture for you. This is a maple, but your willow will do the same thing on the inside now below the cross cut. In this image, all the dark stained looking area is dead and decaying wood, with a thin "film" of living tissue under the bark. Trees don't have much of a way to stop decay from a top cross-cut to the stem. But a proper branch removal is different. You need to enlarge the image to really see the internal damage. The limbs in the back were next in line for removal. All topped and sprouting too. I just cleaned up the one and dissected it for a nice image.

    Your tree will live, but the weakness will be serious.
     

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  10. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    Stooling of willows has been practiced for years and produces a wonderful effect with those that have colored stems. Vigorous trees like these have different levels of ability to cope with such assaults than do most other kinds, that is why planes are used for pollards - they have the horsepower to come charging back year after year.
     
  11. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    So you should never plant willows for pruning close together, they grow so fast you'd get caught between two stools

    ;-)
     
  12. oscar

    oscar Active Member

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    hahahahahhaha *laughs in that, im not sure i got that, sort of a way*

    :D

    it's been a useful thread though
     
  13. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Oscar, that's even funnier than the joke itself!

    Hey, Dave, the tree will be cute as a button when it sprouts; there is one I drive by occasionally that looks like a ... Beatle. Keep your chain saw!

    We have willows that were butchered indiscriminately numerous times before we owned the place, and they have lost no major branches, not even in big winds. I just wouldn't make any assumptions about the structural integrity of willows, period. But you can still greatly enjoy the tree. True enough you will be pruning in future years again, but you can decide what kind of look you like. The sproinging of sprouts will slow down in subsequent years, and you can shape it or re-chop it as you like. Good thing you did this late in the season; it will sprout in no time at all.
     
  14. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Is that a nickname for "pollarding", or tree topping?
     
  15. DandyLioness

    DandyLioness Active Member

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    OMG! That's some really tough love that you showed that poor tree. I can totally feel for your wife. I LOVE my trees. I have a gorgeous corkscrew willow and if my hubby turned it into a stump, I'd be majorly upset too!
     
  16. kia796

    kia796 Active Member

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    So this is pollarding, minus the sundial?

    You'll notice this was a fir. We knew (and intended that) it would die, having planted the thing in an area where it became dangerous as it grew.
     

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  17. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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  18. kia796

    kia796 Active Member

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    Got it, thanks Michael for the links.
    My method was killing
     
  19. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    "STOOLING The regular pruning back of woody plants to ground level."

    --PRUNING & TRAINING, Christopher Brickell/David Joyce (DK)

    If you cut willows grown for their stem color to near ground level or short trunks you get the fresh appearance of the new stems without the homeliness of the mature bark, as well as clear away sections that may have cankers.

    A weeping willow being kept small with hard pruning most doing this would probably want to manage as a pollard, so that there is some height from which the branches can droop.
     
  20. dave8001251

    dave8001251 Member

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    Thanks for the picture of the FirSundial, I showed it my wife and she picked up the chain saw, fortunately for my limbs I had removed the spark plug.
    Thanks everyone for the advice, I am going to sit back and watch what happens with the tree, I will post picture progress as it grows.
     
  21. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Coppice is another term for the practice of stooling I believe.

    here is another form of a stool, with a backrest... ;)
     

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  22. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    Yep.

    It's even got a hole in to drop stools down ;-)
    (ask your doctor what a stool is)
     
  23. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    HA! I didnt think of that, darn I could have made a dandy chair out of it, as it happens I took the pieces off in chunks that my chainsaw could handle easier. I did however donate a couple of pieces of the great specimen to some local botanists and colleagues.
     
  24. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Nice photo.

    Similar to the maple image I showed, only the decay is more advanced - correct?

    I'm guessing that the dark areas were not carved out, other than eliminating the soft stuff in the middle, considering there is staining on the edges where the tree attempted to isolate the decay.

    Is the assumption right?
     
  25. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Dave, I also want to give you credit for being responsive to the neighbours' concerns. When trees are on your property I feel strongly that you are responsible for ensuring they don't encroach on the comfort level of neighbours.

    Our two willows need to be replaced over the next couple of years for exactly that reason, and my husband and I are going to have the fight over them that you and your wife are having, but in reverse.
     

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