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JPR Environmental
The Malthouse
GL10 3DL

Tel: 01453 822 584
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living willow structures

Site choice and preparation for your willow sculpture

There are a few points to take into account when deciding if a site is suitable for planting a willow sculpture.

Buildings: It is well to avoid planting any willows next to buildings as their roots can be damaging. 

Drains: Willows like water and their roots can find their way into drains and waste pipes.  Check that there are no drains running near to the planting site.

Shade: Willows grow best in full sun - remember what is sunny in the winter may be shaded when the sun is more directly overhead.

Soil Type: Willows will grow in most soil types - in fact once they have become established a poor soil type will mean that growth is not too prolific.

Water: Many people associate willows with waterlogged ground, however this is not where they grow the best.  To thrive the roots need to be able to get air so ground that holds moisture but is not waterlogged for the majority of the year is ideal.

Once you have decided on the design for your sculpture and the best site the first job is to mark out where in the ground the willow rods will be planted.

The line of the willows can be marked out using pegs and string, a circular structure being marked out using a peg in the centre with a length of string to show the radius.

To ensure you get the best results the ground to be planted should be well prepared before the structure is installed..  The soil should be friable to a depth of c.12 inches which may mean digging a trench along the line of the structure and, if the soil is very heavy or prone to drying out, adding compost.

If a mulch mat is to be used to suppress weeds then it should be cut to shape and put in place before planting, the willows will be planted through the mat.  The mat can be held down using pegs or by pushing the sides into a slot in the ground with a spade.   The mulched area should extend for 50cm around the structure.

Other mulches which can be used include old carpet, cardboard, newspaper, straw or bark chippings or a combination.  It is always surprising how thick an organic mulch needs to be to stop the weed growth so be generous!

If the site is hard then soak the ground for a day or two beforehand - this will make it much easier to push in the willow.

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