Willow Planting Guidelines

Living Willow Wales - First year's growth

These guidelines apply to planting cuttings or rods.

There are pictures of the cuttings we supply at this page.

Tools - Hammer, metal bar, mulch mat, mat pegs, knife

Location – Choose a location away from any shade, other plant roots and any kind of water pipes (as the willow will be attracted by the water and could grow into the pipes) or the foundations of a building (in clay soil the willow can dry out the ground with the possibly cause subsidence). As a guide the roots will grow about the same distance as the branches spread, so about 5m (17 feet). If you are planting with other willows in the bed, take into account the relative growth each year to ensure they don’t shade each other out. Our curly rods grow about 4ft high each year.

Mulch – To reduce competition from the grass the area the willow is to be planted can be mown and covered with a mulch mat, or a suitable alternative: cardboard, old carpet, etc. Silage sheet is a cheap option for large areas. The willow will still grow with no mulch mat but may take a lot longer to establish.

Planting Layout – We plant our cuttings 20cm apart in two rows 20cm apart through a woven mulch mat. This double row then has a 50cm space either side of it to allow access.

Planting – Cuttings can be planted from December to the end of March. Make a hole about 20cm (8 inches) deep through the mulch mat with a metal bar of suitable thickness – a large screwdriver will do the job and you may need to hammer it . You may need to make a small hole in the mat first. Push the cutting into the hole making sure it is the right way up (buds pointing upwards), leaving about 5cm (2 inches) or two buds above ground. If the hole is bigger than the cutting, firm up the soil around the hole with the hammer.

Pruning/Coppicing – You will get the best show of colour – and a supply of rods – if you cut the stool (the cutting once it has started to grow) back to the ground each year. You are aiming for a domed stool about 10cm high to produce the most rods. There is more information on pruning willow here (this will take you away from this website).

Watering – Give the base of the rods a good watering to help them get established and at regular intervals for the first year if it is at all dry weather. Give them a good soak once a week, rather than little and often to encourage the roots to go down rather than stay near the surface.