How to Make Willow Structures for Your Garden

, written by Benedict Vanheems gb flag

Vegetable bed edged with willow

Quick growing and producing lots of flexible stems, willow and hazel trees offer a plentiful supply of natural material that you can work with in the garden. You can use the stems to make supports for climbing plants, to weave into screens, hurdles or edging – even create stunning sculptures.

Read on to discover how to make a handsome hurdle, step by step, and you can use the same technique for many willow structures.

Willow and Hazel Garden Structures

Both willow and hazel have a long history of use in all manner of garden structures. In order to encourage the long, straight stems required, the trees are periodically ‘coppiced’, when the stems are cut right back to a stump to encourage replacement shoots. You can buy ready-to-work-with bundles of hazel or willow stems. Or you can grow your own, cutting stems back to a stump then allowing new stems to grow in their place.

Willow grows quickest and produces highly flexible stems that are ideal for weaving. Hazel stems tend to be a little thicker and make excellent beanpoles.

Bundles of willow harvested from a willow plantation

Fences made from willow hurdles look stunning and help to filter wind rather than deflect it, avoiding the damaging eddies sometimes found near the base of solid walls. They can also be used to create handsome screens hiding less attractive parts of your garden such as a composting area. Lower woven hurdles make very pretty edges to raised beds, though bear in mind that close contact with the soil will reduce their lifespan.

Weaving a Willow Hurdle

To make a very simple willow hurdle, start by hammering thick sticks – at least one and a half inches (4cm) in diameter – into the ground to form upright posts. They need to be really firmly anchored into place, with the two thickest sticks positioned at either end. If necessary, you can whittle the ends of the sticks to a point so that they pierce the ground more easily.

Weaving a willow hurdle

With your uprights in position you can begin weaving. For our project we’re using bundles of young, thin willow stems. Fresh stems, or ‘rods’ are flexible enough to use immediately, while older stems may need soaking in water for a day or two to soften them up.

Begin weaving by laying the first rod down and weaving it in and out of the sticks, so that the position of the rod alternates between being in front of an upright then behind the next. Now add another rod, this time weaving in the opposite direction.

Willow hurdle showing rod ends tucked in

To hold the end upright posts in place so they don’t fall away, you’ll need to tie them in. Select an extra-long rod for your next weave. Weave it in then flex the thinner end of the rod around the final upright and weave it back into the hurdle. Tuck the end in. Then repeat the process for the opposite end. Feed in another rod and flex it back around the upright, weaving it back on itself and tucking it in.

Finishing Touches

Continue adding rods, alternating the weave to create a good, solid finish. Firm up the weave by occasionally tapping down the rods so they’re nice and tight against each other. Every few rows, tuck the end of the rod back in on itself, twisting it around the end upright and weaving it back into the hurdle. The final two rods should also be tucked back into the weave to create a tidy finish.

Herbs growing in a raised bed edged with a willow hurdle

To complete the hurdle, either trim any protruding rods so they are flush with the ends, or carefully twist and weave them back in. And there you have your finished hurdle!

Making your own hurdle is a really fun project. If you decide to give this a go, do let us know how you get on. Or perhaps you’ve got another way of using willow or hazel that you’d like to share. If so, please add it by dropping us a comment below.

< All Guides

Garden Planning Apps

If you need help designing your vegetable garden, try our Vegetable Garden Planner.
Garden Planning Apps and Software

Vegetable Garden Pest Warnings

Want to Receive Alerts When Pests are Heading Your Way?

If you've seen any pests or beneficial insects in your garden in the past few days please report them to The Big Bug Hunt and help create a warning system to alert you when bugs are heading your way.

Show Comments


"Thank you"
johanna Carrington on Friday 7 April 2017
"Thank you this looks just adorable, I will try this for my herb garden"
Angie Little Moon on Monday 24 April 2017
"Love the hurdles!"
Mikki on Monday 3 July 2017
"Thank you love willow."
Carol Lawley on Friday 1 June 2018
"Where can you buy willow in bulk?"
Mark Aldred on Sunday 17 March 2019
"I got my willow rods from World of Willow, based in the UK. There are lot of other suppliers too - just search 'willow rods'."
Ben Vanheems on Monday 18 March 2019
"I have found that they become brittle and easily broken. Do you recommend any treatment to make them more durable. "
Suse Coon on Tuesday 13 August 2019
"Hi Suse. You can purchase willow and hazel preserver, which contains linseed oil and white spirit to help lock in moisture and protect the structure. "
Ben Vanheems on Friday 30 August 2019

Add a Comment

Add your own thoughts on the subject of this article:
(If you have difficulty using this form, please use our Contact Form to send us your comment, along with the title of this article.)

(We won't display this on the website or use it for marketing)


(Please enter the code above to help prevent spam on this article)

By clicking 'Add Comment' you agree to our Terms and Conditions