I have a large section of basket willow that have formed a shrub shape. They are getting too large and we would like to cut them back by half the size. The insides of the bush seem to be bare branches. How did we go about doing this? Thank you!
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.
Basket willow trees are easy to grow in a variety of soil types. Although they adapt to dry soil, they prefer moist or wet soil. Similarly, the trees thrive in full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Basket willow trees grown for basket making are often coppiced, which involves cutting top growth down to the ground.
The best time to coppice your willow is at the start of its growing season, probably right after the catkins are fading. Another desirable time is during the period when the plant is dormant (late fall), however be aware when pruning in the late fall this would deprive you of the catkin display in the following spring.
Coppicing can be be repeated every 2-3 years to “refresh” the stems. You may find this website of use.