Hi there, I’m in Toronto and interested in growing Basket Willow trees as a privacy screen or hedge, and because they look great and grow quickly. I’ve read of their long roots and that they should not be planted too close to the house. I would be planting them about 12-15 feet away. Any advice would be much appreciated. Many thanks.
Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners:
Basket willow, is a common name for several plants and may refer to: Salix purpurea or Salix viminalis I am going to use Salix purpurea as it is a zone 4 to 7 shrub that grows in various conditions and can be pruned with easy care. Salix purpurea.
As you mentioned the roots will sucker, planting them the 12-15 feet from the house will provide you with a buffer. Watering is essential for this shrub it prefers wet soils, I recommend frequent watering the first year to establish the roots. This willow will do well in a variety of soils, planting in full sun is also the best option for this plant.
I would also suggest that instead of the Basket Willow you may want to look at using a native Willow shrub instead. A native shrub of Easter Canada and the United States Salix humilis Marshall or prairie willow , Native Willow , Native Salix is one of many native shrub willows that you can choose from. This willow will do well in dry soils and will require less frequent watering after it is established.
The Native willows will support native habitat, that includes, birds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. Will require less maintenance once established as with the Salix humilis — prairie willow. This website lists at least 38 native willow shrubs, list of native willow shrubs that you may want to research.