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Willow Planting


Willow is very adaptable, in the UK climate it will survive almost anywhere. It will tolerate some shade, but grows best in bright sunshine, and will grow on moist, dry or fertile sites as well as in poor soil. This plant will actually improve poor soil and clean polluted sites. But the more fertile and moist the soil is, the better the plants will grow. Always plant in the winter. Water occasionally if there is a dry summer in the first year.

Site Preparation

The amount of soil preparation depends very much on the time available, controlling weeds in the first 2 years is very important to allow cuttings to establish effectively. Ideally prepare the soil by digging over and clearing all weeds, however using a sheet to cover the ground and kill weeds will work nearly as well as cuttings can be planted through the membrane. For best results the membrane should be a tough woven material which is water permeable. The membrane increases soil temperature and retains water during dry periods. Thin sheets will only last a year but tougher ones can last over 5 years.


The ideal time for planting is early December to the end of March, however depending on the weather and location it is usually fine well into April. Cuttings or rods should ideally be planted immediately but if this is not possible they should be stored in as cool and shady a place as can be found. Cuttings are pushed (through hole made in membrane if used) into the soil leaving about  7-10cm above the surface, rods should have ideally minimum of 15cm below the surface. If the ground is hard it may be necessary to use a metal bar to help make a hole for the willow to be pushed into. The cuttings must also be planted the correct way up with the buds pointing upwards.


Spacing depends on why you are planting the willow, if a hedge or barrier of some sort they can be planted as close as 30cm apart, however if you are letting them grow into trees you may want to plant them 3-6m apart. If growing for fuel over a 4-6 year cycle, then 2m is more appropriate.

Weed control

As stated earlier the most effective method of weed control is to plant the cuttings or rods through a tough woven water permeable membrane (I can supply). This is very effective and ensure the plants can get established with minimal further work. Helping both weed control and keeping moisture in.

Weeding by hand is very labour intensive and only practical if there are a relatively small number of plants, it is however of course very effective.


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This site was last updated 30-Jun-2012