Monday, March 28, 2011

For Screening or a Fence: Willow Fedge vs Coppiced Willows

That Jim (6'2"), the owner of Bluestem Nursery, standing amongst
Salix viminalis Superba. That is just one year's growth!
(on the willows, not Jim!)

Willows are great for screening. They put on a lot of growth in a single year, especially when coppiced (cut to ground level) in late winter/early spring.
There are two ways to grow them: upright, which involves putting cuttings in the ground, and building a fedge, which involves putting 6'+ rods into the ground on an angle. Let's consider the pros and cons of a building a fedge vs a simply planting a stand of willows:

Fedge (more info on our website)

  • sturdy
  • permanent (meaning year round)
  • unique
  • will keep out deer and other larger animals
  • can be kept narrow
  • gives you screening the first year 
  • will require pruning at least twice a year
  • if not pruned the branches will flop and look messy
  • requires some effort to build
  • because of the pruning required, it may not be very tall

A stand of coppiced willow plants

  • inexpensive
  • easy
  • requires pruning only in late winter
  • many ways to approach it (see Willows for Screening) on our website 
  • will probably keep out deer, once it grows taller
  • shelters wildlife
  • needs to be cut down at some point (however, see the link above)
  • will not give much screening the first year
  • will be quite wide, though stray branches can simply be pruned, at anytime of the year