Living Willow Maintenance
Living Willow maintenance requirements are faily minimal. The live willow rods are planted without roots, but have fully formed root buds which will grow when in contact with moisture/soil.
After initial planting and mulching, maintenance is similar to any newly planted tree. Therefore to establish well the willows should have access to moisture and light throughout the growing season. To ensure this…:
– In the winter of planting, check soil is in contact with the willow at all times. Willow rods are well heeled in on planting, but should be checked and re-heeled after periods of heavy frost.
Ensure mulch isn’t “lost”. If weeds (especially grasses) come through the bark mulch, they should be removed and the mulch checked for depth. At least 5-7 cm of chipped bark should cover a minimum of 30cm each side of the willows. Therefore bark will need topping up as it gets walked on/kicked about etc. Look for playground grade mulch if possible.
– If prolonged dry periods occur in the spring/summer, watering is essential. The willows are planted ½ metre deep and water should get down this far to encourage deep rooting and long-term drought resistance. Hence it is necessary to water copiously, once or twice a week only. Sprinkling the surface will lose much water to evaporation and encourage surface rooting.
– Willow will grow vigorously given the above conditions. This growth can be carefully woven in as it becomes long enough to create a dense leaf covering over the dome in 2-3 years. Alternatively, it can be trimmed up to three times a year. If a “harvest” of rods is required, rods can be grown untrimmed until leaf fall in water. These long rods can then be cut back to the original structure and used to create other fantastic structures! Willows should be cut at least once a year.
– Where rods cross, they are bound tightly with natural fibre twine. The twine should rot in 2-3 years, after which the rods should have grafted together. If growth is vigorous from year one, twine may be absorbed into the willow is it grows. If this begins to happen, affected ties should be cut away.
Living Willow Maintenance Service
I can offer an annual maintenance service comprising weaving in and tying in and formative pruning – please contact me to discuss.