Willow Hedge (I think)

As I am gradually getting a grip on the garden having worked all summer on one bed at a time I am now looking at 'doing something' with the most overgrown and neglected bit. 

It does have some lovely flowers in it already, some shrubs and a couple of lovely little roses. I think a big clear out of the bindweed and nettles and a cut back will sort of get it back in shape.

However, one side of the patch is enclosed with a trellis which has a willow hedge surrounding it which has gone completely wild, very tall, very leggy etc. and is also completely entwined with a (beautiful) purple clematis, still in flower.  

Where do I start? Don't want to kill anything, but it is just an unsightly mess, should I leave it for now and do it in spring or have a go now? Do I tinker with it or cut back hard?

Any suggestions gratefully received. I will try and get some pics when it stops raining too, just so you can be sure it is a willow - I am just guessing having seen a lovely willow hedgehog at son's previous school - looks the same, but unfortunately no artistry involved. 

Thanks. image



  • Pics as promised; 

    1) overall view:


     2) View from end:


     3) Close up of leaves, with another (unknown) tree in the background:


     4) Close up of trellis:


     5) Close up of clematis (rain knocked flowers off overnight) :


    That's it for now, hope pictures give a better idea of problem, rest of the garden not quite so messy - honest - but the edges are being kept as a wildlife sanctuary for hedgehogs, my excuse and sticking with it, hedgehogs like it anyway. image

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115
    Willow can be cut back to the ground and it will spring up again. February is usually recommended, but sometimes there is no temptation to go out in the garden and hack at willows when it is miserable weather. If it is a common sort of willow it will be indestructible.

    Any twigs you poke into the ground will form roots if you need any more willow plants.
  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115
    Yes, looks like a common willow. We cross-posted. Use Glyphosate on the bindweed.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,060

    The other tree is elder.

    My way forward would be to cut everything back as Welsh onion suggests for the willow. 

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    Hi Dord, i looked on line at the most unusual and really nice  willow fences and shapes which were stunning that can be done ,  however when in Wales on our allotment one of the allotmenteers used willow to border his patch 25 Yds by 20 yds, everything ok until the willow came up in next doors blackcurrants, Willow was then band on the allotments,it can be rover be careful, good luck  

  • Thanks all. Do you think I should get rid of the elder, is it out of place in with the willow do you think? And what about the clematis, will that survive the hack back too?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,060

    Most clems can take a good hack.

    I would get rid od the elder unless you want a wild look, I'd get rid of the willow unless you want a lot of work that has no end.

    Those willow shapes and fences that Alan mentions look nice for a while but they need constant controlling. They don't sucker so the ones coming up in the blackcurrants were probably sticks from pruning. If you leave them on the ground they root

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    hi I  cut an arch clematis from 10 foot 6 weeks ago as it was just awful cut down to about 16 inches and it now has 18 new healthy clems looking to grow up,im going to tie it horizontal back and forth to make it grow low down i also nip all the new growth to get more clems , tuff when they need to be ,will need to protect in winter . 



  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,199

    Leave the clematis to finish flowering and then cut it back along with the willow in February and then feed the clamtis generously to encourage new growth.   Whether or not you keep the elder is entirely up to you.   

    For the bndweed, spray or spot paint carefully with glyphosate when new growth shows in spring.  Repeat applications till no more appears but don't let it fall on other plants you wish to keep a sthey will die too.  This may take months and will require vigilance.   Digging it up usually just makes lots of lovely root cuttings and new plants.  

    The Vendée, France
  • Thanks again for update. Will remove the elder but will persevere with the willow for this year and see how manageable it is. Luckily it's at the bottom of the garden heading towards my 'wildy' bit anyway. 

    Bindweed has been a problem in a couple of other beds and have spent the whole summer fighting with it. For now it seems to have settled down a bit, just getting the occasional weak looking stray growth. Did have to resort to poison for one batch, got it growing up a cane and poisoned the whole cane.Horrible stuff. Had the same battle with nettles too, over 6 foot high some of them, but have made some nettle food out of them. Again, the worst are gone, just keep picking out the little baby ones. The farmer behind me has left a whole field of them all summer, wildlife love it but think I am getting the seeds. And don't even let me get started on the brambles .... the joys of gardening image 

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,406

    remove the willow hedge ASAP, they can be a TOTAL nightmare once established if they are not regularly (like once a week) trimmed!

  • Sounds like you have had a bad experience Treehugger. image

    Although it has got overgrown here, I haven't touched it since we arrived in April and not sure it was touched for few months before that, it seems only to have got taller, and not spread anywhere? Are there perhaps different types, some more invasive than others? 

    Thanks for the warning though, will keep my eye on it for now. image

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Hate to disappoint you Alan, but that looks very much like honeysuckle, not clematis....image

    If you have the means just now, I'd get rid of the willow too DD, but if not, I think all you can do is get it into a manageable sort of state and tackle it properly next year, as it's a soul destroying job keeping it in check and you have loads of other things on your plate which will be more rewarding to sort. Also, you mentioned that it's round a trellis and more ornamental plants, so it's possibly been put there as an 'instant barrier' initially, but if left alone it's just going to swallow everything else up and take over .

    As the others have said, clear anything away that you hack off in case you end up with more than you started out with! image

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,060

    You're right re Alan's plant Fairyimage

    DD willow isn't invasive in the sense that ground elder is, but the roots are extensive and can be damaging and the annual growth is enormous,  more so with every year

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,406

    my old house had a person at the far end of my garden who decided to plant a willow hedge with bamboos mixed in, then did nothing to it for three years,

    in the end (after trying to reason with them for months) I had to take a chainsaw to the end of my garden to get back to the fence one summer (while they were on holiday) and lots of weedkiller and digging to remove the bamboo roots, the 'hedge' is still there, 30 feet tall and growing (luckily I don't live there anymore!)

  • Alan4711Alan4711 Posts: 1,569

    Sorry Honey it is clems is the other side of arch, Fairy and Nut many thanks for all your vigilance ,,good word eh, image from sunny heavy winds very cool Norfolk  

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