Trimming large pussy willow

Asked August 1, 2019, 11:07 AM EDT

Hi, I live in Montgomery County MD. My yard has a full grown pussy willow that is shading out the rest of the yard. At this point it costs $1000 to either trim or remove. I want to trim it hard so that I can maintain it, as it offers the only shade in our yard and my little daughter likes climbing and playing under it. I am a forestry major from VT, so I know a little bit. I have detailed it by using a pole cutter to remove competing and dead branches. but I realize that i am scared to go to the next level. It will mean more than canopy lifting. It will mean cutting back far enough that i can maintain it, which will likely remove the entire existing canopy. I am not a fan of heading, but i understand willows are vigorous and people frequently do this every year to harvest the attractive new growth in the spring. But it leads to club-like ends, doesn't it? I need to do something soon because my mom will otherwise have it removed. What strategy should I adopt? Can I do it this Month, still? Hoping to get a saw and start this Sunday. Thanks, Audrey Anne Sukacz (703) 624-3147

Montgomery County Maryland plant care trees

1 Response

It sounds like you are interested in doing a crown reduction to lessen the overall height of the tree. We have general information about this technique on our website. https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/pruning-trees#mature
And here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/prunetree.pdf

Depending on the overall height/size of the tree -- and for your personal safety -- this may be best left to a professional arborist. Rather than doing drastic pruning all at once, perhaps you could work with an arborist to develop a multi-year plan of pruning more gradually over a three-year period or so (and to disperse the cost). Try getting estimates from several different arborists. You can find arborists near you using the website of the International Society of Arboriculture. http://www.treesaregood.org/

Christa