Issues With Reed or Willow Fencing

Willow cuttings and reeds are attractive natural solutions to fabricated fencing materials. Willow and reed fences are relatively simple to build and preserve, but thanks to their minimally processed character, they present a few issues that are unique to fences made from these close-to-nature materials.


The most frequent problem with fences made from willow, reeds or other bare natural materials is decay. When exposed to weather, the following materials will naturally deteriorate over time if left untreated. Preservative treatments, like linseed oil-based preservatives, help control natural decay and deterioration. Willow ought to be allowed to dry thoroughly before it’s treated with a preservative. Depending on weather conditions, decent drying can take up to a year from the time that the fence is installed.


Willows spread extremely readily and their vigorous propagation can be a problem when willow branches or trunks act as fence posts. Given sufficient moisture, a newly cut willow post is very likely to sprout if it’s pounded into the ground as a portion of the fence structure. A remedy for this dilemma is to use just thoroughly dried willow for posts or to use commercially milled lumber posts.

Living Fence Growth

Living willow fences are a popular choice to cut willow fences. Fresh willow cuttings are shoved into the ground and then woven together to form a fence. The cuttings sprout and grow and leaves fill in the fence, providing shade and privacy. But if the divisions are not properly implanted, the growth can be irregular. Cuttings that are implanted vertically tend to sprout just at the ends, leaving gaps in the middle of the fence, so cuttings should be implanted in a 45-degree angle, which encourages them to sprout along their whole length.


If not properly tied and braided, willow or reed branches tend to unbraid over time. This may be exacerbated by exposure to wind and weather. Regular maintenance of the fence, such as retying and rebraiding any divisions that have come free from their place in the fence, which will help to maintain the fence structure from substantially degrading over time.

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