Forum home Problem solving

Willow arch - how to make it NOT grow?

Hi there,

I'm looking to create an archway across my garden path for runner beans to grow up later in the year. My local park has an annual willow harvest, and they leave the spare/smaller whips lying out for members of the public to use.  So, I was thinking of picking a load up and using them to create my own garden archway. The only thing is that I know willow has rather a zest for life, but I don't particularly want a LIVING willow arch (I've dug so many stumps up recently I daren't create more). And, given that the park harvests annually, I think I'd rather make a new one every few years.

So, is there a way that I can stab the side whips into the ground without them growing? I don't particularly want to wait for them to dry out as my window for planting runner beans will pass. Can I dip them in some brilliant solution that will stop them growing but not affect the soil around them?

I am very much new to this - I only acquired a garden last summer so am very much winging it. Fortunately I'm rather enjoying just winging it, despite all the tree stumps!

All suggestions appreciated. Thanks.



  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,899

    I should think if you were to leave a foot or two of them to soak for ten minutes in some boiling water they wouldn't put up much of a fight after that.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,051

    wrap the ends in old compost bag polythene?

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    Tape the end of the whips is the only way I fear.
  • Simon69Simon69 Posts: 68

    If you want them to just be sticks then the natural urge to send out roots and grow needs addressing. Stand them in a bucket of salty water overnight, (Or a medium of such that nothing grows in!!). Should knock'em back a bit.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 83,847

    I would never trust willow not to grow ... Pa made a new prop for Ma's clothes line years ago - it was a forked willow branch, stripped of all its bark.  After a really bad winter when all the washing had been dried indoors around the Rayburn for weeks and weeks, on hanging washing out for the first time in the spring Ma found the clothes prop had started to take root!!!  image image

    I've seen pieces of willow used as fence posts, with leaves sprouting from them. 

    Pa said that he'd once seen a game of cricket so slow that the batsman at the bowler's end found his bat had taken root!!! image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,136

    It can be done simply by letting the stems dry out thoroughly.

    It's easier to work with fresh green stems when binding and winding them to make a structure but then you need to park it on a hard surface for a few weeks to ensure it is dried and dead.   I did this with a home made willow obelisk and it never grew.  Others on the course who put theirs out straightaway had sprouting obelisks.


    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • chris 172chris 172 Posts: 403

    Hi all

    willow is. Really hard to get rid, having received some, lots of cuttings from a friend gardener I had the thought of a willow perimiter fence and arch on my allotment.

    two years later I have dug it all up as it is prolific and grows at least 6 ft in a season and the roots spread across your fertil soil bullying your crops and you are forever cutting it down as it grows so quickly.

    if you are going to use willow make sure that there are no green canes and keep an eye on the arch for any growth but i personally would no bother you have enogh to do growing your crops

    happy gardening

  • Hi everybody, thanks for your responses. Perhaps I would be better off being a little less thrifty and just buying an arch (one that won't take root!). I may try the salt/boiling water idea, though still not sure I would trust it not to root after that.  It's funny how little comes up on a Google search for how to NOT make willow grow. I know its great for a whole host of things due to its extreme will to grow, but I can't be the first person who's wanted to create a garden structure without it rooting in! Perhaps I'm just being impatient and should weave one and let it dry for next year...

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,685

    You have at nearly three months before runner bean plants can be planted. Make your arch and let it dry out on concrete meanwhile.

  • Id probably try removing the bark and cambium layer from the ends that are going in the soil before charring the same ends over a bonfire or firepit.
Sign In or Register to comment.