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Living willow structures for school grounds
Making living willow structures is a popular activity for primary schools in the UK. Willow can be woven into shelters such as domes and wigwams. It can also be used for making seating areas, fences, archways or covered walkways. Willow grows well in any open space.
The willow rods are simply planted into the ground during winter or early spring. Roots grow from the part of the rod that is under the soil. Once the willow is established it can be cut and used for creative weaving activities or to produce rods for new planting projects.
The children can be involved at all stages of a willow weaving project from the planning to the planting. They can then use the structures in their play and watch the willow grow and change. The only tools that are needed are a spade and a pair of secateurs.
1. Choose an open site away from underground drainage systems.
2. Mark out the ground and dig a trench.
3. Plant the willow rods at least 30cm. deep and approx. 10cm. apart.
4. Weave the windows and doorway.
Cost of a living willow construction project
Each project is designed to suit the situation of the school so the cost varies with the size and location of the construction.
A medium scale project such as a willow dome takes a day to construct and costs £150. The estimated cost for materials for a medium scale, local project is £90. So the total cost would be £250. The cost of materials is in the cutting and transportation of willow rods from Cliffs Farm.
Advice, maintenance and support
Once the willow is planted, it will need trimming every year. This can be done in late summer. The willow that is cut can be used for weaving or it can be planted to make a hedge, fence or other structure. Bark chippings put around the growing willow stop weeds from growing and prevent the need for mowing. Contact OWLS if you need any help with this.