Willow whips living fences, screening, root problems

a1154a1154 Posts: 749

Hi, i have been given a large sackful of willow whips, and am getting excited about living fences, structures, dens etc. 

i do not know the variety and i have been told its not easy to identify as there are so many.

im starting to worry about roots though, and information is not clear. Websites say nowhere near buildings or drains.  Others say modern closed drains are fine, and for buildings you can go min distance -  1.5 x final height.  So if you cut or bend at 6ft say...thats actually pretty close to a building isnt it?

a bit confused.  Any willow fans out there to help me? 



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  • a1154a1154 Posts: 749

    Oh right.  i hadnt really thought they would be temporary.

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  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 3,966

    Just use some common sense. A hedge living or not will still have roots and by its very nature will be kept in check height wise so no problem there. You would not build a willow structure close to the house anyway - would you? And even if you did, you would still have to clip it so there should be no problem there either.

    Are you thinking that willow roots will creep underground seeking out water and breaking into drains like some alien being? That you will waken up one morning and find them coming up through the toilet?

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • a1154a1154 Posts: 749

    Thats not very helpful Hogweed. Fences inevitably involve other parties, and its up to me to get the facts straight so as not to cause any concern for them.  

  • The roots of any hedge can be invasive if there are old structures underneath. However, nowadays the quality of drainage pipes is generally enough to prevent ingress by lesser roots. The roots of a  trimmed hedge will be less searching, so I wouldn't worry overly much. I'm a little concerned about the timing. Whips will need to get in the ground very quick, or at least into water to keep them fresh this time of year. It's normally a late winter event, planting willow structures, and I've done several, fences, screens, domes etc. The leaves and stems will probably be of different shapes and colours respectively which will aid identification.  I'm presuming this is fresh cut willow?  HC 

  • a1154a1154 Posts: 749

    Hi, i didnt think the timing was good either, very dry at the moment for one thing.  Its been cut several weeks and sat in water.  i am topping up water daily, and its sprouting leaf Like mad.  I can take a picture if you want to have a go at identification.  

    All surrounding structures are newish.  Under 5 yo. 

    Do you consider your dome etc a short term item like chrissyb or would you keep it a while?

    oh and i think they are cuttings not whips now ie shorter. 

  • Yes, they're cuttings. Whips are (usually) bare root young trees. If they're sprouting then great, get them in the ground and water them copiously. It's willow. Just plunged into the river banks round where I am they take root, so give them the best chance. The largest dome I've done was for a school. In fact I've just been speaking to them re the maintenance. It's been in situ 8/9 years. Basically a dome with a tunnel entrance, like a  big igloo. It'll stand for ever. Other structures I've put in or steered are intended long-term. Do send a picture of the leaf. Doubtless from this site we'll identify them. HC

  • a1154a1154 Posts: 749

    Hi, sorry for the delay.  I have not been able to update posts for several days, must have been a website problem affecting ipad users maybe. 

    Pic follows.



  • a1154a1154 Posts: 749

    Any ideas on variety ?

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