The Willow Tree

How do you prune a Willow Tree?

Pruning a willow tree is best done during its dormant season, typically in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This timing ensures minimal stress on the tree and promotes healthy regrowth. When pruning to maintain a healthy shape, focus on removing dead, diseased or damaged branches first, cutting them back to the main trunk or a healthy lateral branch using clean, sharp pruning tools. Additionally, thin out crowded areas to improve air circulation and reduce the risk of fungal diseases. For shaping purposes, trim back any overly long or unruly branches to maintain the desired size and form of the tree. It’s important to avoid heavy pruning during the growing season, as this can weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to pests and diseases. With proper pruning techniques and timing, you can help your willow tree thrive and maintain its natural beauty year after year.

 

What is Coppicing and why should you do it?

Alternatively willow can be grown to supply rods as weaving material and coppicing is a traditional method of harvesting willow trees that involves cutting the tree down to ground level, allowing it to regrow from the stump or “stool.” This process stimulates vigorous new growth, particularly of straight, slender shoots known as rods or twigs. Coppicing is typically done during the dormant season in late winter or early spring when the tree is not actively growing, which minimizes stress and maximizes the tree’s ability to regenerate. Willow trees are particularly well-suited to coppicing due to their rapid growth and ability to produce multiple stems from a single stool.

One of the primary benefits of coppicing willow trees is the sustainable production of renewable resources. By regularly harvesting the young shoots, which can be done on a rotational basis every few years, coppiced willow trees yield an abundant supply of flexible, straight twigs that are ideal for weaving, crafting, and construction. This renewable source of material reduces the need for harvesting timber from mature trees, helping to conserve natural woodlands and promote biodiversity. Additionally, coppicing can rejuvenate older willow stools, extending the lifespan of the tree and maintaining its health and vitality over time. Furthermore, coppiced willow trees contribute to carbon sequestration and soil improvement, enhancing the environmental benefits of this traditional forestry practice. Overall, coppicing willow trees offers a sustainable and versatile solution for obtaining a variety of useful materials while promoting the long-term health and resilience of the tree and its surrounding ecosystem.

How fast do willow trees regrow and can you weave it yourself?

Willow trees typically exhibit rapid regrowth following coppicing, with new shoots emerging from the stool shortly after cutting. Depending on factors such as species, climate, and soil conditions, new shoots can grow several feet in height within a single growing season. In favorable environments, some willow varieties have been observed to produce new shoots reaching lengths of up to six feet within a few months post-coppicing. The speed of regrowth is influenced by factors such as adequate moisture and nutrient availability in the soil. This quick regrowth of willow trees post-coppicing makes them a valuable resource for sustainable biomass production and various applications requiring pliable, freshly grown twigs and branches.

The removed willow branches after coppicing can be utilized for weaving various items such as baskets, bowls, and other woven crafts. Willow branches are prized for their flexibility, making them ideal for weaving intricate designs and sturdy structures. After coppicing, the freshly cut branches can be sorted based on their thickness and flexibility, with thinner and more flexible branches often used for finer weaving work, while thicker branches can be used for more robust structures. The branches are typically stripped of their leaves and then soaked in water to make them more pliable/ and easier to work with. Once prepared, the branches can be woven into a wide range of items, including baskets of various shapes and sizes, bowls, trays, and even decorative sculptures. This sustainable practice not only utilizes the renewable resources provided by the coppiced willow trees but also allows for the creation of beautiful and functional handmade crafts.

Weaving Willow fences

The fence is constructed by driving sturdy wooden posts into the ground at regular intervals along the desired fence line. The willow branches are then woven horizontally between the posts, creating a lattice-like pattern. Additional vertical branches can be added for stability and aesthetic appeal. As the branches dry, they shrink slightly, tightening the weave and strengthening the fence. Willow fences provide a rustic and charming addition to any garden, offering privacy, protection, and a natural aesthetic that blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape. The picture above shows our dog Sparky playing in the Willow-weaved sheep shelter. If you would like to book a consultation with Chris to discuss how to add willow to your garden landscape give him a call to book an appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick and Easy Pruning

As the promise of Spring hangs in the air, now is the perfect moment to unlock the potential of your garden and do some quick and easy pruning. Embrace the transformative power of pruning with Mandi’s expert recommendations, designed to breathe easy new life into your outdoor haven. Some small alterations can help to keep plants happy and healthy as well as make the over all aesthetics of your garden more appealing, and even beginners can do this. In this article we will outline some of the basics on what plants could benefit from a little extra help this month and we’ll explore practical how-to’s for those taking their first steps into the world of pruning.

Why prune in early Spring?

It is thought that pruning is one of the oldest agricultural practices in the world, and according to legend, it all began when people noticed that the grapevine nibbled on by the local donkey grew more grapes than any other vine. Pruning away dead leaves or crowded branches allows for better plant growth, as healthy stems have improved air circulation and more access to sunlight. The dead leaves can often attract pests too, so it’s beneficial to remove them as soon as they are spotted. Pruning can even minimise the spread of any diseases that some plants might be more susceptible to, protecting the overall health of your garden.

A spot of seasonal trimming can also make your garden more attractive in the coming months. By removing the dead or tired plants, we can make room for the spring-blooming perennials and allow more space for fruit trees to grow their harvest. This will allow for more colour and eventually attract more beneficial wildlife like bees and butterflies to pollinate in summer. Strategic pruning can also help to develop a more vibrant garden by giving us the opportunity to design our gardens to best fit our needs. But just some quick and easy pruning will yield results.

The adventurous might want to try their hand at tree shaping as this is the perfect time of year to experiment with new talents. Evergreen trees and shrubs hold onto their leaves throughout winter, making it easier to carve new life into them. We recommend starting simple if this is your first time shaping and make sure to periodically step back and assess, unless you’re a fan of the lopsided circle of course.

What should we be quickly pruning?

Mandi recommends any deciduous trees or shrubs in your garden should be given a once-over this winter. Deciduous plants shed their leaves every winter and bloom anew in spring, this is why winter is the ideal time to make space for new growth, quick and easy pruning will remove any crowded branches or unhealthy leaves. Beech, Silver Birch, Hawthorn and Crab Apple trees are some of the most common trees in England which benefit from some trimming. Keep an eye out for broken branches or visible scarring as they are tell-tale signs of damage or disease. If you want a surefire test, scrape a little of the bark of the branch with your secateurs, if the underlying bark is green then the branch is alive and well and there’s no need for intervention.

Be cautious not to over-trim though and especially look out for spring-blooming shrubs or climbing plants like roses. If in doubt a quick search online will help to clarify whether a plant is safe to shear, and if you’re still in doubt or would like to get an expert in to help give Chris a call on 07841 509 634 and arrange a time for us to stop by.

How to do some easy pruning :

For smaller gardens we recommend a trusty pair of secateurs. If you’re buying new tools for the new year Mandi prefers the bypass kind for a cleaner cut (pictured above), but long handled loppers give better leverage for larger jobs. The anvil secateurs (pictured below) are sometimes easier for those with less grip strength, or for thicker stems. The key to quick and easy pruning is a little bit of prep work keeping your tools clean. Try to keep your tools clean and sharp to prevent spreading any harmful pathogens to your garden. You can buy specialist oils for this if necessary but generally just cleaning them after use works well.

When trimming, try to cut just above the bud and preferably at an angle matching the direction of growth. This will make it easier for the bud to blossom and grow anew. If you are removing any dead or diseased wood from your trees try to cut as close to the base of the stem as you can, this will allow new healthier stems sprout. If you aren’t looking to cut though a quick once-around the garden removing dead leaves and damaged stems by hand is also beneficial, and a good pair of gardening gloves is all you’ll need. Possibly a warming cuppa for afterwards too.


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