Working with Willow

Information sheet

Making a structure with living willow can be great fun, use it to create fences, dens and sculptures in your school grounds.

 

  • School term: Early Spring
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Art&DT

Living willow 

Willow (Salix) is one of nature's colourful and adaptable building materials. It is easy and fun to create willow hedges, bowers, dens, arbours and walkways. For the more adventurous, wigwams, chairs and sofas would be challenging projects. You can make garden rooms, create childrens' play areas and provide privacy more quickly than with a more traditional hedge

Planting

  • Choose a site away from walls and buildings, where there is plenty of sunlight but the soil is not too dry
  • Use fresh willow during the dormant season (November to March)
  • Make individual planting holes, or dig a trench, 30cm deep
  • Use cuttings at least 45cm long, with the base cut diagonally
  • Plant two-thirds in the ground
  • Space cuttings 45cm to 60cm apart.

Aftercare

  • Control weeds eg by using a mulch
  • Add fertiliser once a year
  • Weave in new growth
  • Prune in late autumn
  • Use prunings for new projects

Willow facts and figures

The Latin name for willow is Salix, and the family is Salicaceae. This gave its name to salicylic acid, which is the precursor of aspirin. There are 400 species of willow, with leaves varying from long, slender and shiny to round and woolly.

Plants can vary from massive trees to tiny creeping shrubs. Many have attractive, coloured bark which makes them good garden shrubs for winter colour as well as being attractive for basketry.

 


 

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