Willow whips or branches can help you create a rustic yet functional trellis for your front or backyard. Willow branches are very pliable and you can easily weave these to create structures such as baskets, trellises or arbors. Your homemade willow trellis will support lightweight vines such as jasmine or clematis, or vegetables including peas and beans. Collect 1-year-old willow branches from your local field or garden 24 hours in advance, so they retain the moisture content and are pliable when you begin weaving your trellis.
Cut and collect green willow branches from trees. Cut longer pieces with loppers that you can trim down with shears. Fresh, green willow whips are flexible and easy to work with as opposed to dried ones.
Place your willow branches on the ground in front of you. You need four 6-foot lengths to form uprights, an 8-foot length for the arch and six 5-foot lengths for the crossbars. You also need smaller whips to form a fan that extends from the top of your rectangular panel to the arch. Keep the uprights and crossbars ¾- to 1-inch wide, and arching whips ½- to ¾-inches wide, so they bend easily. Remove leaves from all whips.
Clear out a rectangular 4-foot wide and 6-foot high space on the ground. Measure these dimensions with measuring tape, and demarcate with powdered chalk. Also add gridlines a foot inwards from each corner of the rectangle for the uprights.
Stand two 6-foot high uprights on the grid. Lay a crossbar horizontally over the tops of the uprights and secure the joints with 16-gauge wire. Also measure 6 inches upwards from the lower corners of the grid and place a crossbar horizontally over the spot. Secure both the joints with 16-gauge wire. Depending on personal taste, leave the 6-inch length protrusion on each crossbar as it is, or trim with loppers.
Measure and mark uprights for the remaining crossbars every 16 ½ inches downwards from the top of the panel. You need four marks for the remaining four crossbars.
Weave crossbars under and above uprights at 16 ½-inch intervals, and secure the joints with wire. Snip excess lengths that protrude too far. Weave crossbars without measuring spacing, or add several more crossbars between the others so your weave resembles a basket.
Place an end of the 8-foot arch willow over the top of the left upright positioned outside. Keep its tip 7 inches under the top crossbar. Secure the point where the arch and crossbar meet with wire.
Arch this length of willow slightly towards the right so its other end rests against the top of the right upright positioned outside. Secure the joint with wire.