Sustainable Designs Lamdoughty Farm, Loch Doon, By Dalmellington, Ayrshire, KA6 7QE, GB 01292 550 935
Advice on growing, planting, and coppicing willow
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Advice on growing, planting, and coppicing willow

    I am happy to answer queries regarding planting, growing and harvesting, please phone or email with any questions you may have. If you need a site visit I can usually provide a first visit in return for my travel costs.

    Here are a few pointers.
    What to plant?
    This is the first question to ask ones self, what is the purpose of planting willow?  It could be as a shelter belt, haven for wildlife, or maybe you would like to start a willow bed for weaving, whatever the answer each will demand a different approach.

    Sourcing willow
    Once you have decided on the purpose the next stage is to source the cuttings. Before buying try and find some advice from those already growing the type of willow you hope to grow. 

    When to plant?
    Planting can take place from early to late November, through until the end of March. Some people go into April, however this sometimes puts strain on the plants and I have known more failures during late planting.

    How to plant?
    Cuttings can be planted straight into the ground as green sticks, a cutting of 9” (23 cm) will be enough to produce a coppice stool. If making living willow structures use a rod the length of the finished item, thus a 6’ (2m) high fedge will need a 7’ (2.30 m) rod. Always plant through a total light excluding mulch, such as black plastic sheeting, the cutting/rod will need protection from weed or other plant competition in its first year.

    Where to plant?

    Willows are associated with damp areas, which is true but they do not like to sit in water. Also poor soil will give poor results. Plant in an area with an open aspect, i.e. where they have plenty of light, and are not shaded by competing vegetation or buildings.

    Harvesting takes place any time after the leaves have fallen usually mid to late November through to the end of the following March. Cut the stems back to the stool with a sloping cut of about 45 degrees, this allows water to run off and not sit on the dormant stool. Cut the whole stool as any stems left may shade out new growth. Any plants left to grow will branch from the top and fill out at the stem, bear this in mind if not cutting on a yearly rotation. 

    Maintaining living willow structures/sculptures
    A living willow structure/sculpture needs to be cut every year, take it back to its original shape or form.

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