How to Grow a Willow Fence

Overview

Amazingly enough, willow branches can be arranged to grow any number of structures for your garden, from chairs and tables, to arches, arbors and fences. Home gardeners can cut their own branches or purchase different varieties from nurseries that specialize in willows. Some homeowners prefer wattle fences, which are composed of branches woven together to form a solid-looking fence; the cross pieces will not sprout, but the poles will. Using willow branches as a living fence results in what is sometimes called a "fedge," or a combination of a fence and hedge.

Step 1

Add soil amendments such as organic material or manure to the soil to provide a well-draining and fertile mixture. Dig down approximately 1 foot into the soil when adding the amendments.

Step 2

Place stakes in the ground along the line where you want the fence and run a line of twine or string to provide a planting line. You could also consider planting your fence in a curved line or an asymmetrical wavy line for a more whimsical effect. Use a garden hose to lay a planting line that is not straight.

Step 3

Cut willow branches to the same height, about 6 feet or longer. Choose branches that are as straight as possible.

Step 4

Push branches, or whips, into the prepared soil approximately 1 foot deep. For a tight fence, push branches into the ground at a 45- to 60-degree angle approximately 15 inches apart; then push in another set of branches in between these, angled in the opposite direction to form a diamond pattern. For a looser fence, push in the branches upright approximately 8 inches apart.

Step 5

Spread a layer of mulch over the soil to help prevent weed growth and to retain moisture.

Step 6

Spread netting over the whips or protect them with tree guards if deer are a problem in your area.

Step 7

Water the soil regularly to keep it moist while the whips are taking root.

Step 8

Prune the branches as they grow to help maintain the shape of your fence or weave the branches back into the fence to create a more dense fence.

Tips and Warnings

  • Willows have invasive roots and need to be kept at a distance from home septic or drainage systems.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Soil amendments
  • Fertilizer
  • Stakes
  • Twine
  • Sharp clippers
  • 6-foot willow branches
  • Mulch
  • Hose
  • Netting or tree guards

References

  • Bluestem Nursery: Living Willow Structures & Fedges
  • Willow Works: General Planting Advice for Living Willow Structures
  • "Sunset Western Garden Book"; editors of Sunset Magazine and Sunset Books; 1977
Keywords: growing willow fences, growing living fences, building living fences

About this Author

A freelance writer with an extensive career in education, Susan Lundman taught writing and communication at the Military Academy at West Point, at military bases overseas and at community colleges in the United States. Working in a non-profit agency for 20 years, she wrote grant requests, promotional material, and operating guides. Lundman's expertise includes backpacking, dance, gardening and healthy living.