Create an inexpensive and functional willow trellis for lightweight climbers such as beans, clematis or jasmine. Willow branches are very supple and easily woven to form sturdy trellises, baskets or arbors. Not only is this a perfect way to reuse willow branches, but you'll have a natural-looking trellis that blends well with the surrounding landscape and enhances the charm of a particular spot. Use willow branches and whips no older than a year, and collect them a day in advance to ensure they still retain moisture content and are still pliable. Dried branches are difficult to weave.
Cut willow branches off with loppers, or trim precut branches down to your required size with shears. Your willow branch trellis will have four uprights (each 6 feet long by 1 inch wide) for a rectangle panel; an arch (8 feet long by ¾ inch wide); and six crossbars (each 5 feet long,by 1 inch wide). Cut several small whips if you want to form a fan-shape between the arch and the panel. Strip leaves from all branches and whips, and discard appropriately.
Measure and demarcate a 4-by-5-foot wide area on a flat and level ground. Spread a thin layer of powdered chalk over the four lines. Also measure a foot inward from each corner and add gridlines for the trellis uprights.
Place two of the four uprights parallel to each other, over their designated gridlines on the panel. Extend a 5-foot crossbar an inch below the tops of both the uprights, allowing for an equal length to protrude each corner. Wind 14- or 16-gauge wire around each joint to secure it.
Lay a second horizontal crossbar 6 inches above the lower edges of the grid, and wind 16-gauge wire to secure both joints. Trim the protrusion on each end of the crossbar, or leave as is.
Measure locations for uprights for the remaining four crossbars. Starting at the top of the panel, space these downward every 16 ½ inches until you get four points.
Weave crossbars over and under the uprights spaced 16 ½ inches away. Wind 16-gauge wire around joints to secure them. If you want, add more crossbars in-between the ones already installed for a uniform-looking weave, or leave the weave as it is so the spacing is not uniform and the trellis looks natural.
Extend the willow arch branch horizontally over the extreme left and right uprights. Position the tip of the arch 6 inches below the upper crossbar. Wind wire to secure the intersecting point where the crossbar and arch meet. Bend this branch toward the right so its other end extends over the right upright, and secure with wire.