I had to chop down a beautiful 20 year old willow tree. It was a fast grower that started to drop huge heavy branches all over the ground and the alley. We wanted to stop the process before it attacked any of the neighbors or their cars in a high wind. What would you suggest as a replacement? We'd still like to shade that part of the lawn.
I highly recommend you replace your willow with a Drake Elm. This is a fairly compact tree with a beautiful draping of it's limbs and branches, without sweeping the ground like a willow. It will not get as big as an oak while having the general shape of a live oak. A sweet tree!
Nelly Stevens Holly is a wonderful evergreen, slow-grower, small tree. Youpon Holly trees grow slowly, have small leaves, and is mostly evergreen. Neither have many pests, nor require much attention in Texas, preferring ordinary soil, but do best in landscaper's mix soil, or peat mixed into soil.
Mulching is a good idea if they are in full sun.
Both prefer sun, but will grow in partial sun fairly well. To give them a good start, spraying the leaves each month with Liquid Kelp and water mixture is a good idea, as well as placing crushed egg shells into the soil.
(Remember that Willows and many other specimen trees have a short lifespan. Don't plan to ever plant a Cherry Laurel, because they get borers frequently and have invasive roots. Crepe Myrtles are a Texas favorite and can be trained into a single stalk or multi-trunked small blooming tree, needing little water. Their only pest is scale if planted with too much moisture or mulch. They need good air circulation and sun, cutting the spent bloom stalks off and trimming lightly in the Fall each year.
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