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Ok, stupid mistake.. So I've always wanted a weeping willow. I know they grow to be MASSIVE and that they have big roots which is why it is planted 30meters from my house. I've JUST planted it today (16/11/13) and speaking with my neighbour, she told me about a sewer pipe that runs sraight through my back garden. I've just been through a land search from Southern Water and sure enough, it is there about 15ft from where I just planted my willow!!

Since then I've been scowering the net and time and time again it is all about the damage that the tree roots will do and now I'm really panicing. I love this tree. I did just plant it today. It was in a pot and is about 6ft tall.

There are mature hazel, apple, cypress trees in my garden (big, big) but I'm guessin their roots don't grow like a willow's does?? Other neighbours have big trees.

What can I do? Is there anyway of getting a really, really big pot and it live happily in there? I don't mind any work associated in terms of maintenence, etc. I'll do it all. Otherwise, what do I do? I can't just let it die. I'd rather try a pot method or I'd hate to leave the tree there and find out in 2years it has to come down. How fast do roots grow??

And there is no way to limit root growth I'm guessing. I'm devestated. Any advice.


We had a small one about 6 foot high in our front garden when we moved here and we were warned by a professional gardner to have it removed because of the potential root damage. We dug it up  and a local with a large garden with the brook running through it offered to make a home for it.  I suppose you could keep it and bonsai it in the pot it came in. 


unless you have an enormous garden there's no room for a weeping willow. They look awful if you have to keep cutting them back.

We've got some by the road, there before we came. They look like lampshades and I hate them.  OH likes them and he's in charge of the chain saw.

If we didn't cut them back they'd block the road . They are big trees.


I admire your enthusiasm. I grow Brugmansia in pots and they need watering 3 times a day during sunny spells in summer, even now indoors they need a lot of water. TBH it is getting boring. A Weeping Willow just gets bigger each year and a pot is not going to work: I have seen a 1 metre wip grow into a 3 metre wide multi-stem 3 metre tall tree in 7 years. I honestly do not think that a pot will work. Is there land near you that you can guerilla garden?

Just moved to area and don't drive. So getting the willow to a guerilla garden difficut, though there is plenty of farmland and I am by the coast. . .

I know nothing about growing trees in pots and bonsaing them. I've heard people mention it is possible to grow big trees in a pot...and I've found some quite big pots for it to eventually go into.. aw bugger sewer system..

For tree potting my questions would be:

how often would I need to repot a tree on average? (with house plants I can tell but a tree is a different thing.)

I know it will need nutrients as the soil will be depleted of it over time, is there any particular type or just something like babybio or mirical grow (though perhaps I do not want it to actually grow so fast when in a pot..)

What and how do I find out more about having to clip the roots is this bonsaing (I thought that was growing small trees from clippings)?

I don't mind the watering. I already have a bamboo and loads of plants in a green house (just not trees) so am use to multiple waterings.





A willow will fill a 50 litre pot in one summer and exhaist it in 2 IME.


I concur with above experiences. We had a weeping willow to one side of our drive in. Each year, even after cutting back, it spread over to the opposite side of the drive as well as over the road. The branches are quite brittle - you can break off quite thick ones by pulling hard on them - which meant our the cars parked in our drive were always at risk in high winds, as was passing traffic. We had to take it down in the end.

They are lovely trees in the right setting - overhanging a river or pond - but their spread above ground can be extensive, and below ground they are forever seeking out water making the range of their roots vast. Definitely keep away from underground water pipes, drains and sewers.

One possibility might be to donate to a school or college, but then they might not want the liability or possible risks. 

Woodgreen wonderboy

I am afraid we all make mistakes from time to time. There's no real alternative to getting rid of this tree altogether. If you can't find a new home for it, then it's the chop. Please don't compound things by putting it in a pot. The CTW  ( cruelty to willows)  police will soon find out. 

HI j i

Had you concidered repotting it and taking it back to Garden center for an exchange?  a tree more suitable in size for your plot. perhaps a fruit tree or rowan to help birds and bees, i am sure they would help.

 Or you could donate it to your local country park.

   just a thought,


It definitely needs rehoming.  You don't want a bill for repairing the sewer pipe nor all the mess that such a repair would make to your garden or the upset with the neighbours.

Bite the bullet and dig it up and then either pot it while you find a good home or chop it up and let it dry out completely before binning or composting it.  


Jenny, nothing like a weeping willow, but have a look at Robinia Pseudoacacia. Thought you might like it. I have one in a large pot, but they will grow happily in the garden.


Beware robinias.  They are all gradually succumbing to a sickness which kills them.  Mine has struggled for the last 2 years and this year managed to produce one tiny leafing stem before dying completely.   A healthy alternative for golden foliage is gleditisa.


That's not good obelixx, guess I'm lucky up to now, mine is fine. I'll check out gleditisa, just in case.

KEF wrote (see)

That's not good obelixx, guess I'm lucky up to now, mine is fine. I'll check out gleditisa, just in case.

Had a look obelixx, thank you.  The robinia I suggested is a dwarf one, didn't mean for Jenny to plant another tree that will be a drain problem.


otnorot but just call me Bill

They grow very well beside a stream/river,but if no water source then they will send their roots right through sewer pipes.Here in Toronto there were two Willow trees in 1966 that were 20 Meters tall,and it was discovered that their roots had found their way to lake Ontario 4 kilometers away.I dont know if these trees are still there as I havent been in that area since.



Hi there

I have planted a scarlett willow at the bottom of my garden for the first time, if I keep it pruned to a hight of around 10 foot will the roots still become invasive? It is planted in a corner and I would hate it if it intruded into neighbours garden.


Hi Elaine, this is potentially a big tree. If you keep it pruned the roots won't spread so far but if it's in a corner they'll reach the other side of the fence and further. Any tree or large shrub planted close to a boundary will extend it's roots to the other side


Guess I'll have to give the weeping willow a miss, huge shame  it would look great instead of the kids play area.

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