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.