Weave a Living Willow Screen
Slimmer than a hedge and just as easy to create, willow screens are ideal for garden room partitions or wind breaks.
- Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything
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Willow screens screate a sense of boundary that's in keeping with a natural landscape. Once established, they also make good windbreaks for a vegetable plot or flower garden.
When to Start: Winter, when willow is dormant
At Its Best: All year round
Time to Complete: 4–5 hours over a few months
The easiest way to buy willow cuttings is from a specialist willow nursery; most now have online and mail-order shops. The cuttings are harvested when dormant in winter and will only be available at that time. They are normally 10–12 inches long and take a season to grow to a suitable length for weaving. Rods for tunnels are longer. Keep the growing area free of weeds and water the cuttings well after planting, until they are fully established.
- willow setts
- finished compost
- garden tarred twine
- rubber plant ties
Grow or Buy Willow
The most common willow for weaving is Salix alba, which has colorful stems in winter. Buy your cuttings or "setts" in winter and plant as soon as possible. Don't plant near buildings or drainage pipes, because the roots are invasive.
Dig plenty of organic matter into the soil and remove weeds. Push a spade into the soil 8 inches deep, insert a willow sett into the slit and firm in. Space setts 8 inches apart. Water well. Wait until new growth appears before weaving.
Weave the Willow
Crisscross the stems over and under one another to form a rigid diamond-shaped structure. Tie stems where they cross with twine, and use rubber plant ties to secure the top of the screen. This allows some movement and prevents stems from snapping in the wind.
Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything
© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited
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