Add rustic charm to your garden with a willow trellis. Willow whips (branches) are very pliant and easily woven to form decorative yet functional trellises or arbors that enhance the appearance of a spot. Collect branches for your project no later than 24 hours so they retain moisture, as dry, brittle branches are difficult to weave and bend. Line a trench with plastic, fill it with water and immerse dried willow branches or whips into it for several hours so they absorb water. Allow them to dry in indirect sunlight for several hours before assembling your willow garden trellis.
Cut willow branches off a 1-year-old tree with loppers. Select green branches or whips that are pliable and easy to weave as compared to dried ones. Trim a branch down to 8 feet for your trellis arch, four uprights (each 6 feet long) and six crossbars (each 5 feet long). Select 1-inch-wide branches for crossbars and uprights, and a ¾-inch-wide arch branch.
Cut smaller whips to assemble a fan-shaped structure from the upper edge of your rectangular trellis panel to the arch above it. Lay all your branches and whips on the ground. Strip leaves and discard appropriately.
Measure and mark a 4-by-6-foot rectangular area on the ground with spray paint. This forms the outline of your trellis panel. Also measure a foot inside from each corner edge and mark gridlines for uprights.
Place a 6-foot tall upright on each grid. Place a 5-foot long crossbar horizontally over the upper edges of both uprights. Wrap 16-gauge wire over each joint. Measure and mark a 6-inch height from the lower edge of the grid with spray paint, and lay another horizontal crossbar over it. Also wind 16-gauge wire over the joints. Trim the extending 6 inches on the crossbars with loppers, or leave as it is.
Measure uprights for the other four crossbars on the grid. Space each of the four points 16 ½ inches apart and mark with spray paint.
Weave a crossbar above and below each upright spaced 16 ½ inches apart, and wind wire to secure the joints. Trim protruding lengths with shears. Repeat this procedure to weave all the crossbars.
Lower an edge of the 8-foot willow arch-branch so it rests over the upper corner of the left upright, 6 inches below the first crossbar. Wind wire around the point where the crossbar and arch meet.
Extend the remaining length of willow towards the right of the panel so its other edge meets the upper corner of the right upright. Wind wire to secure it in place. Depending on personal taste, position smaller whips over the top of the grid and extend these towards the arch in the shape of a fan. Cut each to size so it fits perfectly, and secure with wire.