Garden Screening with a Living Willow Hedge

When it comes to garden screening and fencing there are a multitude of options out there for you to choose from. But if you are looking for something different while still getting the benefits on privacy, height and style then a living willow fence is a great option.

Living willow fencing is garden screening that is actually planted into the ground, where it will continue to grow. Because willow is so flexible and easy to work it can be weaved together to create a sturdy and attractive natural garden screen.


To make your own willow fence you will need a shovel or spade, a pruner or secateurs, some garden tying tube or twine and a selection of bare root willow whips or small plants. Willow is called Salix in Latin and there are a number of species that can be used as a willow fence including the common Salix alba. If you are going to buy willow for a willow fence ideally you want plants that are young. Whips of about 1.2m is a standard size and perfect for starting and weaving your garden screen.

The first step in making a willow fence is the same for any hedge and that is to dig a trench. The trench should be about a 1 ½ foot deep and 1 foot wide. Next you need to position your willow plants:

  • Start by positioning your willow plants. Position plants two together in the same place
  • Each double set of plants should be spaced 1 foot apart
  • Therefore you begin by planting two plants together, then move 1 foot to the left and plant another two plants together.
  • These plants should only be loosely positioned in the trench.
  • Add a small amount of soil as you go to hold stems in place.
  • Next bend the plants so that they are at right angles to each other.
  • One plant is angled to the left and the other to the right, creating a V
  • Continue this process along the trench and you will notice that the willow stems will begin to overlap at right angles to each other.
  • Weave one stem inside the other to create the diamond weave or pattern

To create the ideal pattern the plants need to be spaced evenly apart (1 ft) and the stems need to be angled at the same angle (45 degrees). This will give an even and symmetrical look to the fence. At the point where the two stems

Willow plants require moist conditions and wont tolerant dry soils. They are fast growing plants and within a year your willow garden screen will be about 1.8M tall. To maintain your fence garden screen there are a number of things you will need to do:

  • Pruning:

As the willow grow you will need to maintain its shape. Ideally you want only one single stem for each willow plant. One single stem on each plant allows for the plants to be weaved together neatly and symmetrically. Therefore you will need to remove all side shoots from each willow’s main stem. This is best done in early spring.

Allow each willow plant’s main stem to grow until you are happy with the hedge final height.

  • Weaving

As the main stem of each willow plant grows you will need to continue to weave them together following the same process as before. To weave loop one stem inside the other and tie both in place with garden green tying tube.