To Fedge or Not to Fedge?

That is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the willow to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fedgeune, or to take arms against a sea of fedges, and by opposing end them.

Willow fedges are living structures made from closely planted willows.  Ornate structures can be built up; chairs, houses, pergolas and so on, but in its simplest form a willow fedge is just a living fence.

Willow is a fantastic tree, it has adapted to survive where most trees will not – it will grow in water and in the driest dust.  It is resistant to a host of diseases and pests and it is generally easy on the eye.  All of which makes it ideal for any number of purposes.  BUT – dear reader – the one thing willow does not do is grow slowly. Let me repeat: Willow is a racehorse amongst trees.

And therein lies the problem.  You buy your willow cuttings (or setts), or if you are really in a hurry you can get rooted cuttings.  You plant them (following your plan) at 6-9″ intervals and you elaborately weave them in a beautiful criss-cross fence, or maybe even an igloo.

Perhaps a bit like this one. Please note that the picture was taken only a couple of months after planting.  These things, once they get growing can put on 6-8 feet (approximately 2 metres) every year. So, on the one hand, for the impatient amongst you, the results are fast. On the other hand, however, maintenance is huge.

If you do not keep your fedge under control, within an amazingly short period of time it will have turned into a thicket.  And then a forest.

So your time budget for a fedge should include trimming it hard about 3 times a year.  Do that, and a fedge hedge is without equal in its strength and rapidity.  But don’t turn your back or it might get away from you!

If you fancy a shot at a willow fedge use something like Salix viminalis or Salix britzensis for greens and yellows or combine salix daphnoides and Salix purpurea for violet and purple bark.  Why not have a look at our range of willows for fedges


By Ashridge Support

Ashridge Nurseries has been in the business of delivering plants since 1949.


  1. Julea Hunter says:

    Hi recently moved into a cottage that has a willow fence, it’s not been managed at all well, currently about 14ft tall and leafing up. When and should we, cut it back to a few inches high? To start again with it, so to speak. Don’t want to pull it all out. Any advise would be appreciated
    Many Thanks.

    1. Ashridge Support says:

      You can coppice willow in the autumn, which involves cutting it down to ground level and it then sprouts in spring. However, a coppiced plant gets wider each time you cut it down so I am guessing your hedge will get “fatter”.

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