The Damage of Weeping Willows

by Sierra Mayle, Animal Sciences major

Even the most beautiful and extensively breathtaking of nature and life itself sometimes brings about unforeseen implications. The Weeping Willow is one of those tress that has the capability to cause infrastructural damage and thousands of dollars in repair when not properly secured.

The elongated and unconventional root structure of this tree is one that can carry out its growth to compromise pavement, structures, or water and pipe lines.

How is this possible? Like the powerlines that make up our system of electricity, these trees have an intricate network of roots that can grow up to 100 feet from the trunk itself. The foliage that is produced can range from 45 to 70 feet wide.

Because there is such an elongated and complicated root system, they need to be planted in a spacious area. They hold the capacity to grow roots above and below ground, and preferably should be planted farther away from other trees to prevent root competition.

A preventative measure is using a system called root barriers. In essence, it prohibits the roots from destroying water or sewer lines. Physical barriers constructed from metal or plastic can help limit destruction of any structures or lines. It is important to note using plastic or metal barriers can obstruct proper water drainage in the soil. It has also been stated that wire mesh can be used.

Knowing that there are preventative measures, using barriers is most effective when they are buried at a length of at least 3 feet. In order for this system to be most effective, it will need to run the entirety of the structure to ensure the roots cannot grow around the placed barriers. When not installed properly, it only prolongs potential damage this tree can inflict.


SF GATE: The Root System of a Weeping Willow


Sierra Mayle is a junior at The Ohio State University, studying animal sciences. She likes to spend her time reading novels, playing video games, and playing with her three dogs and ferret. She does not enjoy fruits or vegetables.

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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