We recently purchased a 15' Willow tree. After planting it, the main trunk is straight, however approximately 5' up it starts to have a very bad lean to the right. How can we fix it without damaging the tree?

  • 3
    Please, please send pictures. How long ago did you plant this tree? How big of a pot or how big was the root ball? What did you do to plant this tree? Watering schedule, fertilizer or any amendments? Have you attempted any pruning? Sounds as if a small session of correct pruning will be all this tree needs to grow straight without the need to stake. We can help you prune with enough pictures, video. What species of willow is this tree?
    – stormy
    Oct 7 '15 at 20:21

At 15', if the trunk has set, you cannot correct the lean. If it is simply a weak trunk (try pulling the trunk the opposite direction, and see if the trunk bends over that way), you may be able to use temporary staking to correct the lean. I have seen that often, where a large willow was planted, and after even a small amount of top growth, has become too heavy in the crown. If you do not correct it, it will set that way, and there will be no way to fix it. Sometimes lightly thinning the crown helps, too.

If the trunk is already rigidly set with a bad bend in it, I'm afraid you can't do much, except train the crown out further on one side, to compensate (kind of centering the tree's weight over the root flare).

  • Oh yes you can, this is a bonsai technique turned macro size....take a 4"x4" post and a couple 2x4's put the 4x4 on the outside of the bend, and place the two 2x4 at either end of the post but on the side of the bend. Get 4 pipe clamps of the right size. Clamp the bottom first, not super tight but firm enough not to slip off. Then start clamping down on the top until it's just snug but hasn't done any starightening of the trunk yet. Now that it's in place, straighten the trunk by say two inches toward straight. Every week add 1 inch, one straight, loosen a touch and wait a couple months.
    – Escoce
    Oct 7 '15 at 23:41
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    @Escoce No. That would break a bad bend, if the wood was set. Also, the clamps would be dreadful to the bark, if they were pulling enough to straighten the tree. There is a reason you never see this done. On big trees, with the wood set in a bend, they will retain their spring back anyway, unlike bonsai trees.
    – J. Musser
    Oct 8 '15 at 0:26
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    A 15 ft tree is hardly set wood, the trunk is likely only a few inches in diameter. We are talking about willow, not walnut. You are right. It will spring back some, but not entirely. It won't hurt the tree, that's why you use 4 inch wood to spread the load and not girdle.
    – Escoce
    Oct 8 '15 at 1:15
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    Not a great idea... I do not recomend it
    – J. Musser
    Oct 8 '15 at 1:46

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