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Tree Huggers Please

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  • Tree Huggers Please

    Someone on here sounded very knowledgeable about weeping willow trees but I don't remember who it was. Anyhow on the previous thread about planting trees I mentioned that I was planting many weeping willows on my farm - one tree per field although I did plant 2 trees at the edge of one of my ponds. This pond is seasonal so when the pond is there it is fenced off to not let any horses in there, however once it dries it is part of one of my fields (field is split into 2 paddocks with adjoining gate). I had some horses stay for a short time last week and just popped them in the paddock with the pond but taped the pond off. Well the blighters managed to tear down the tape and wandered into the pond and scratched and rubbed on the two willow trees and ended up breaking them. The trees I planted were about 15ft-20ft high and now they are broken down to about 4ft high now. I evicted the horses immediately but after the damage had been done. The trees now have brown leaves ... does this mean they will die now? I know not a lot about replanting large (ish) trees like this so any advice would be welcomed.

    All the other planted trees (8 of them) seem to be surviving.

  • #2
    They'll probably come back. Try trimming all the injured parts off so no diseases or insects get into it.

    If you end up needing a tougher tree try planting River Birch. Likes the wet, a pretty fast grower but unlike the willow - is very strong. It might hold up better to their shenanigans.
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    -Rudyard Kipling

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thank you. Yes I was going to trim back to the breakage in the hopes that the rest of the tree would survive but as I say I do not really know much about planting trees so didn't want to go ahead if it was detrimental to the trees.

      Those horses have been banished back home and I've kept the others, who usually have access to that paddock, out, so hopefully the trees will pick up again. I just thought that if they wouldn't recover then now would be a good time to pull them out of the ground and replant more willows. I do have a field that I never use right at the back of my farm which has loads of River Birch and they are beautiful so I could take some saplings from there but I really wanted the willows in the fields for their medicinal properties.

      Comment


      • #4
        I would not worry too much about the willows. They are a pretty tough tree, IF you provide enough moisture. Right now, I am watering my new willows twice a week. We have had no rain since July, so extra will keep them green and happy.

        I will purposely be cutting the tops off mine, to keep them shorter in height. I planted them next to a wet spot, so they would be using up the extra water instead of having the ground wet so late into summer. In wet years it is a small pond! Willows drink a lot of water, so I figure in the future, they will drink enough to prevent ponding of excess water.

        Topping off the willows, encourages trees to have a much better root growth to provide food. This practice is seen in lowland countries in Europe, so they don't flood as readily. A couple garden shows I have seen, show rows of topped willows alongside the drainage ditches so fields above are much drier and usable for grazing and planting. They said they top the trees off every few years, 5 years apart sound about right. Willows in the show were about 7ft tall, with LOTS of growth above the main stems. I have seen the same thing happen locally, when the yard willow gets top heavy and falls over. Owner cuts the top, leaves main stem and tree regrows a new top. Kind of carrot top looking with thin branches filling in over time, if trunk is very big, but tree is still growing and can look quite nice. Old willows around here seem to get LOTS of top and it makes quite the wind break when weather hits. Such heavy tree tops sometimes can't take the wind and big branches break and fall. Quite often the tree owner gets up to remove limbs BEFORE they break for safety. Tree keeps on growing just fine.

        So I would advise trimming neatly, whatever trunk and branches you have left. Then water if you don't get any rain, keep the tree hydrated and let it revive itself. Might take a year or two, even longer, to be looking real good again. Lightly fertilize in early spring, and maybe mulch with stall bedding in the fall. Even badly damaged, roots could send up sprouts. I do protect the trunks with a small-hole, (chicken wire works) wire cage out away from tree a foot, so rabbits or deer don't chew the soft bark in winter. When bark gets woody, then probably the cages won't be needed.

        If you want to plant new trees, fall is coming and is a great time for planting. I find my fall planted shrubs, trees, plants, do very well and have a better growth than spring planted things. PLUS buying stuff in fall means they are on SALE so sellers don't have to take a loss or hold over winter.

        Comment


        • #5
          They should be fine if you trim them up. I was listening to a horticultural show one time with an expert arborist answering calls. Someone asked him when is the best time to trim a weeping willow and he said anytime you can reach it with shears.
          Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
          Now apparently completely invisible!

          Comment


          • #6
            any time I have taken cuttings, the sticks die back and then all of a sudden have a growth spurt. Any kind of willow is hard to kill so I would think if the root system is still there....you are good to go.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by goodhors View Post
              I will purposely be cutting the tops off mine, to keep them shorter in height. I planted them next to a wet spot, so they would be using up the extra water instead of having the ground wet so late into summer. In wet years it is a small pond! Willows drink a lot of water, so I figure in the future, they will drink enough to prevent ponding of excess water.

              Topping off the willows, encourages trees to have a much better root growth to provide food. This practice is seen in lowland countries in Europe, so they don't flood as readily. A couple garden shows I have seen, show rows of topped willows alongside the drainage ditches so fields above are much drier and usable for grazing and planting. They said they top the trees off every few years, 5 years apart sound about right. Willows in the show were about 7ft tall, with LOTS of growth above the main stems. I have seen the same thing happen locally, when the yard willow gets top heavy and falls over. Owner cuts the top, leaves main stem and tree regrows a new top. Kind of carrot top looking with thin branches filling in over time, if trunk is very big, but tree is still growing and can look quite nice. Old willows around here seem to get LOTS of top and it makes quite the wind break when weather hits. Such heavy tree tops sometimes can't take the wind and big branches break and fall. Quite often the tree owner gets up to remove limbs BEFORE they break for safety. Tree keeps on growing just fine.
              Topping trees is not good arborist practice. It was done in Europe primarily to induce suckering. This was done as a desperate wartime practice to provide fodder for livestock as the young suckering branches provided better nutrition. In earlier times, coppicing was also done to produce suckers to use as building material and basket material.

              Topping trees should NEVER be done to reduce mature tree size. If you dont want a 30' - 40' tree (weeping willow mature size) PLANT SOMETHING SMALLER.

              There are several native willows (they dont weep) which also suck up water and which mature at 10-15'.


              That being said, willows are forgiving trees, especially when young. They may well recover from the severe pruning they got from your horses.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by apcohrs View Post
                Topping trees is not good arborist practice. It was done in Europe primarily to induce suckering. This was done as a desperate wartime practice to provide fodder for livestock as the young suckering branches provided better nutrition. In earlier times, coppicing was also done to produce suckers to use as building material and basket material.

                Topping trees should NEVER be done to reduce mature tree size. If you dont want a 30' - 40' tree (weeping willow mature size) PLANT SOMETHING SMALLER.

                There are several native willows (they dont weep) which also suck up water and which mature at 10-15'.


                That being said, willows are forgiving trees, especially when young. They may well recover from the severe pruning they got from your horses.
                These shortened. European trees are not that old, looked about 8-10 inch trunks, on recent TV shows the last couple years. Trees were specifically mentioned as being planted for helping edge the fields, water control devices. None appeared to have suckers down low.

                The reduction in size of the big willows is a home protection thing. Willows are NOT young, not planted by most current residents fo the home. The old "stick a willow branch in the dirt and it will grow" kind of thing, not landscaped plantings. Those old trees can be HUGE, easy 6ft trunks with branches big enough to smash cars or homes under them. Willows are not known for being the strongest of trees, so branches fall in hard wind storms. A person with a chainsaw, often takes on his own "tree trimming" rather than call in arborists to save money. You can't tell him how to manage his own trees! I have not seen any of the trimmed trunks fail to resprout branches if not cut to the ground.

                I planted larger willow trees by my wet spot, wanting the larger root under them to absorb more water. Not big yet, but someday. And the trimmings from them actually DID sprout when poked into dirt in the garden! They are getting supplemental water now as part of the garden. I have now got a couple more little willows for future planting in another wet spot.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Willows are like most prenennials and when you cut any branch you usually get more shoots where you cut them or at the next junction down. With some, you get two shoots. This is how many keep the foliage thick.

                  Classic weeping willows are "brittle willows" and the branches break easily. The Hakuro-nishiki Dappled Willow is more of an upright shrub but still retains the same characteristics of many willow in that you can stick a branch in the ground and get a new shrub (some are grafted, usually tree form and will not breed true). These are not so brittle as the weeping willow.

                  When I want to shorten or thin my Hakuro, I take whole branches from near the bottom and then trim the top down.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We topped our willow tree about 2 years ago, and by "top", I mean cut off every single branch coming off the main trunk. Everybody (except me) thought the tree would die, it was about 40' tall at the time. Even the firewood we cut the branches into, sprouted shoots come spring! Fast forward 2 years, and nobody would ever believe the tree had been trimmed that severely. It's every bit as large as it was before, and much fuller. I'm hoping that we can "top" it again this winter, just so we can contain it. Not only do my horses keep it trimmed near the gate, but I have taken to trimming the weeping parts with electric hedge clippers. I have to traverse underneath this tree several times daily, since it sits between the feed shed and the run-in shed. I think I've trimmed it back 5 or 6 times already this growing season! I can't imagine anything that will ever kill this tree!
                    Cindy

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      You guys are the best! Many many thanks indeed for all the info. Will be taking my pruners out there tomorrow and cross my fingers that neither tree dies at my hands ...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hey - if you want to try a rather funky willow I planted a Corkscrew Willow on a lark.

                        It's pretty cool looking.
                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                        -Rudyard Kipling

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ...just don't plant anywhere near your septic field - like a LONG way away.

                          Our tree is magnificent - two people have to stand and hold hands and they can just reach around it. A few years ago we took four tons off it. The remaining trunks were as thick as a man's torso. It grew back in astonishing time and we took another huge amount off last year. I was apalled but the tree lopper said he pruned it! I called him a logger. Anyway, it came back this year, huge and graceful as ever.
                          Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One farm I visited in belgium had the biggest willow trees i'd ever seen. The original keep wall and chapel were still intact from way long ago (pre 1500s). The manor house that sits above/overlooking the pond, was built in 1780s and they had to change plans a few times because of the willows that ring the pond, so the trees are over 200 years old. HUGE. I've never seen a non-redwood tree that big. they trimmed the bottoms so the horses wouldn't nibble on them.. and in pictures, you see these horses under the tree, and think it's little foals or something.. nope... Full grown horses just dwarfed by these trees.

                            Willows are one of my favorite trees (oh who am i kidding, i love all trees, and call all my favourites.. lol.. and each is )

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Yes aren't willows such majestic trees! I've always loved them and they take me back to my own roots as willows are very common back in Europe, around the village pond or next to the manor houses.

                              Corkscrew willows are lovely. A friend of mine has one. The willows I have are just regular weeping willows. All of the other ones I replanted seem to have taken nicely, just these two on the pond that were eaten by the visiting horses aren't looking so well right now. I really hope they survive as they are planted in the most glorious spot. Fingers crossed.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I also like those weeping cherry trees.. and birches.. river or paper. Both do well by ponds too I think.

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