Living Willow Fences

Takes a lot of energy to make a roll of fence wire.Living Willow Hedges

Here’s a better way. Posts do not have to be too skookum.  Basically, you are planting a lot of trees.

Or ‘fedges’ = fence + hedge. Willows, sallows, and osiers form the genus Salix (Latin for willow), which consist of around 400 species of deciduous trees and shrubs. Willow are native to moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Almost all willows take root very readily from cuttings. Young, thin willow cuttings are known as withies, longer willow rods are known as whips.

willow hedge

Living willow fence at Vevey Garden, Switzerland. Willow rods are pushed into the ground at an angle. The tops are tied to a horizontal, weaved in withy to give stability along the top. Willows have high levels of auxins, hormones that promote rooting success. The hormone is so prevalent that “willow water” brewed from willow stems, will encourage the rooting of many other plant cuttings as well. Image by Barbara, OvertheMoon

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
The angled rods tend to sprout along their entire length, while the uprights oft times sprout from the top only. Botanical Gardens of Wales. Photo by Libby,

living willow hedge
Simply make a hole in the ground with a metal bar, then insert the willow cutting. Weed control is important when starting a willow fedge and the cuttings should be planted into a weed barrier that allows water penetration, otherwise the weeds might suck away a bit of vitality from the young willows. As a general rule, shorter cuttings establish and grow best without competition from weeds, whereas longer cuttings have more stored energy and can handle a bit of competition. Willows prefer full sun, but will accept part shade. Willows are also very adaptable as per water conditions once they are established and will also survive in poor quality soils. Image:

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Use Salix Viminalis and rub off the new shoots on the lower portions of the rods to achieve this open look. Image:

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
‘During the summer any side-shoots are rubbed off to keep the lattice work of the fence clear of growth, but the top three or four buds are allowed to grow out. These shoots are trimmed back to the top of the fence in the winter.’ From Living with Twisted Willow.

willow fence

Living willow fence at
RHS Garden Harlow Carr, Yorkshire.

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Three willow stems woven into a diamond pattern. The tops are tied to a horizontal withy to give some stability to the top. Photo: Peter D’

living willow hedge

Salix ‘Americana’ planted in Canada. Ties are used to secure the structure while it becomes established.

willow fedge
living willow hedge
Same hedge as photo above, yet one year later. The fence was trimmed back once in the early fall. Fence and photo by Lene Rasmussen.

living willow hedge

Living willow fence. Photo by Barbara, OvertheMoon,

living willow hedge

The living fedge structure will require periodic pruning and weaving of new growth. By Green Barrier Fence, Europe and Canada.

living willow hedge

Living willow hedge surrounding a vegetable garden in France. Design: Judy and David Drew. Photo by Nicola Browne.

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Lush new growth on the willow arbour at Whichford Pottery,

living willow hedge

Willow arch at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.

living willow hedge

Living willow arch. See resources below for willow arch kits. Photo by Daniel via:

living willow hedge

Living willow arch. A 4′ x 7’6″ x 2′ arch installed for 130 pounds in Suffolk, England.

living willow hedge

A living willow arch. As photo above, but in winter.

living willow hedge

Fedge in the winter at Ryton Organic Gardens.

willow hedge

Living willow privacy screen in urban settings.

living willow hedge

In 1998, natural artist and architect Marcel Kalberer created the Auerworld Palace, a pavilion made of living willow trees. It is also known as the “mother of all willowpalaces”. It has become a tourist attraction for the region between Weimar and Naumburg, Germany.

living willow hedge

Willow is often used for streambank stabilisation (bioengineering), slope stabilisation and soil erosion control. Willows are often planted on the borders of streams so their interlacing roots protect the bank against the action of the water. Their roots are often much larger than the stem that grows from them.  See how to plant willow cuttings to prevent erosion at a streambank:

living willow hedge

Living willow fence by Wassledine, Bedfordshire, UK. Additional cuttings can be added to secure the base. As they grow the lower shoots can also be woven in to thicken the fence.

living willow hedge

Living willow hedge panels by Green Barrier of Scotland. Living hedge sections come in pre-constructed 1m widths and in heights from 1.2 to 2.5m. They are planted directly into topsoil to a depth of 60cm (2 feet), to provide support while the roots grow.

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
A wood frame with tall, straight willow branches stuck vertically into the soil and intertwined into the frame. Caution, willow roots are aggressive in seeking out moisture; for this reason, they can become problematic when planted near cesspools or drainage areas. They should also not be planted close to a building due to their roots aggressive and large size.

living willow hedge
living willow hedge
Heavy pruning at the top encourages growth at the bottom.

willow hedge

A rose in front of Hakuro Nishiki or Dappled willow. This is just a shrub not a fedge, added here because this willow variety is striking. The slender leaves emerge as glossy bright pink, then mature into a white, green and pink variegation.  Regular pruning encourages the best color. Stems are red in the winter. Prefers moist soils. Image

living willow arbor

Living willow dining arbor to protect you from the sun. Kit for sale


Seventeen willow varieties for fencing:
Willow for living structures:
Which willow where:
Read about the different Willow Species for Hedging:

Popular willow species for living fences:

Rods available in 1.5, 2.0m, 2.5m, 3.0m and 3.5m lengths.

Salix Viminalis (produces long, straight rods without many side shoots),
Salix Tortuous (Corkscrew or Curly Willow),
Salix Alba Vitellina (Golden Willow),
Salix Alba Chermesina (Scarlet Willow),
Salix Purpurea (Chou Blue),
Salix Sachalinensis (Sekka)
Salix Triandra (Black Maul) grows fast.

Willow cuttings for sale:

Washington State:
New York – kits:
Oregon: enter willow in search.
BC, Canada:
Fedge Kits and more, England:
Kits and cuttings: Gloucestershire, UK.
Kits:: Suffolk, UK:
Kits, Northampton, UK:
Check on ebay.

Willow Water:
Root azaleas, lilacs and roses by soaking two large handfulls of pencil-thin willow branches cut into 3 inch lengths in two quarts of boiling water and steep overnight. Refrigerate unused water.

Willow and Deer:
Young cuttings should be protected from deer and rabbits. Deer will eat willow when there is nothing else to eat. But if you desire your fedge trimmed periodically this might not be a bad thing. Willow rebounds quickly. Salix purpureas is the most bitter and therefore least eaten willow. 

Here’s a better way,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s