I have a very mature weeping willow in the front garden which was well balanced and with the recent storm one of the main branches broke off. I noted that branch had a weakness, due to rotting from inside. I was advised to pollard the two remaining branches quite far back as the split from the main tree was starting to show signs of weakness.

Where the branch broke off, this was going to be cut back to the stem of the tree and left for the tree to heal. Is there sealing that can be applied once the broken branch is cut back to prevent ingress of the water into the tree?

Any advice on this is much appreciated, it will be a real shame to lose a much loved willow!

  • Don't lose heart. Weeping willow trees are hard to kill even if you're trying to kill them. The people who bought my grandma's house completely cut down her huge Weeping willow tree (more than once), and it grew back each time. Eventually, they gave up at let it grow. Also, you can cut a young, long branch off and plant it in the dirt to get a new tree with the same genetics. That's how my grandma's tree came to be. Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 0:27
  • Do not apply wound paint, tar, or anything else to the cut. (see my answer here for more info). Taking that branch back to the main trunk is a good idea, but make sure it has a good angle, and is a good clean cut, or the center will rot before the tree heals over.
    – J. Musser
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 4:11

1 Answer 1


Do not apply anything. "Tree paint" has been discredited for years - it harms, not helps the healing process. But it's still for sale in too many places. All you can do is cut it back properly (not too long [dead stub rots], not too short [you want to retain the "collar" where the tree is prepared to seal off the branch when it dies.])

Willows are quite resilient - it will likely recover fine.

  • Yes, look up proper pruning technique extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/NR_FF_004.pdf Commented Nov 26, 2015 at 16:03
  • The only things I have to add are these from experience. Cut farther away from the collar of the branch when cutting it down. Make the first cut UNDER the branch and cut 1/3 of the way through and stop. Then put your saw on the top about 1 inch FARTHER away from the trunk, and cut through. This prevents the branch from stripping the bark off the tree when it falls. Do this with all the branches you will prune off. After word, go back and cut the branch closer to the collar. And make sure the cut is nice and clean, not broken cracked or splintered.
    – Escoce
    Commented Nov 28, 2015 at 1:16

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