How to Prune a Weeping Tree

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The Japanese maple has a pleasant weeping shape that makes it an excellent ornamental.
The Japanese maple has a pleasant weeping shape that makes it an excellent ornamental. (Image: Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Weeping trees include the weeping blue Arctic willow, the Japanese maple and the weeping mulberry. These trees have long, attractive branches that sweep to the ground. Whether covered in flowers or attractive foliage, they add visual interest to the garden. Pruning weeping trees allows the trees to keep their shape and neatens their appearance.

Prune in late winter. By pruning in late winter, you reduce the time between wounding the tree and the time when it pushes out new growth to heal the wounds.

Remove limbs that are dead or broken. They strain the tree and force the tree to use resources that could otherwise be used to grow new branches.

Remove limbs that cross one another. Crossing limbs restrict the weeping tree's natural shape and prevent light and air from penetrating the tree's crown in the summer.

Remove branches that grow upward past the crown. Branches should curve back toward the ground at the crown, and if they jut upwards, they destroy the tree's look.

Trim back limbs that touch the ground. Pull them back 1 foot or more off the ground to get an attractive hang.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stake young weeping trees to preserve their shape.
  • Cut away growth on the trunk that does not grow upward, as lateral growth causes the weeping tree's shape to deform.

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