Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Willow for fencing  (Read 1243 times)

Dreich Pete

  • Joined Jan 2014
  • Aberdeenshire
Willow for fencing
« on: October 04, 2020, 01:38:02 pm »
I've decided that a 100m length of boundary between my wildflower meadow (in the making) and the cow field next door (not mine) could do with something more attractive and multipurpose than the wire fence that's there and getting close to being in dire need of maintenance.

My thoughts have turned to willow as either living hedge with anti-rabbit mesh along the lower part, or possibly wicker panels built from my own coppiced willow, with other hedge growing at it's foot until properly established.

It's a windy spot and although I plan to leave that section more like a wild meadow, I will also have to use some sections for planting veg and possibly building a shed.

I currently only have a couple of more ornamental willows planted by the previous owner, so I guess I need to source some cuttings and start planting up.

Any suggestions/advice/input/offers?


  • Joined Nov 2015
  • Kernow: despoiled in summer and villages left empty in winter except for Xmas/NY.
Re: Willow for fencing
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2020, 05:05:56 pm »
I'm a bit confused by your post @Dreich Pete:  do you own the the wire fence and looking to replace with a living hedge or is your neighbour responsible for maintaining the wire fence?

In meantime:

cut willow fencing (you mentioned possible wicker panels) won't last more than a few years:

you already have a source of cuttings to start planting up this winter !


  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Willow for fencing
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2020, 05:09:00 pm »
Talk to your neighbour who owns the cows about your plans, and hopefully he'll  explain better than me how your plan, as it stands, would appear doomed to failure.

You say that the existing wire fence needs maintenance. Well unless your neighbour is prepared to protect it with electric fencing, there's nothing that will ensure its total demise faster than the cows reaching over a fence that's already on borrowed time, to reach your choice willow saplings.
I very much doubt also if any wicker panels that you may construct will stand up to an animal weighing maybe half a tonne or more rubbing its backside or head on them.

I don't think you really appreciate what you're up against. It's not for nothing that the invention of barbed wire totally transformed how cattle could be kept. :innocent: [size=78%]  [/size]
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

Dreich Pete

  • Joined Jan 2014
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Willow for fencing
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2020, 07:46:17 pm »
Sorry, I see how that would read without knowing the layout and a bit more about my plan.

The fence is (probably) mine to maintain. The cows are only in for a couple of months during summer - too exposed most of the year apparently, theyíre breeding not dairy, and there are never more than about 20 including the calves. The plan was to keep the wire fence long term (with only the most essential repairs), and the willow/hedge wouldnít be the sole barrier until/unless it is well established and sturdy - even then there will probably be some sort of fence in. Iíve seen the other herds nearby be kept from the rest of a field full of crop, with no more than tape which they reach over but never push through. We had the cows come into our plot last year and the farmer came and did the repairs.

P.S. I didnít plan for the willow to be close up to the wire and I have plenty of space to leave 3 or 4m gap. Or more if needed. The cows havenít bothered with the hawthorn and hazel I planted a few years ago: I just didnít plant enough or take care of them to establish a proper hedge, but none of them got attacked by cows. Rabbits werenít so considerate.

« Last Edit: October 04, 2020, 07:52:34 pm by Dreich Pete »


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Willow for fencing
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2020, 01:07:44 am »

Watch that in future years the march fence doesn't crumble and disappear behind your hedge, and the neighbour can then sneakily claim it's his land right up to the trees.  It wouldn't be you and your current neighbour but a following generation.  Maybe I'm just super suspicious, but reading back in history books, boundary disputes have kept many a lawyer fed. We have the same problem here with all our newly planted hedges - but in our case it would be our current neighbour who would be the grabber!
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Dreich Pete

  • Joined Jan 2014
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Willow for fencing
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2020, 11:12:33 am »
I would never have thought about moving the boundary by replacing the fence from the other side of it, thus gaining another metre along the whole length. Not me. Nooooo way.

But seriously, I did wonder about arranging between us to have an electric line run the length of the existing fence, but 1 or 2m in from it. It would allow me to make essential repairs without being quite so disturbed. The line along the fence is as stoney, rutted, and muddy as you'd expect.

Interestingly, the cows were moved into the field this week, but they've only ever been here during late spring thru early autumn in previous years. I need to give the farmer a call: I owe him a bottle of something anyway.

I have a different issue on the other side of my field: the drainage ditch has never been maintained and is silted up in several places causing my field to become waterlogged when the rain is heaviest. It's not been an issue until now, but now that I'm looking at properly utilising my land I could do without the hassle. The ideal solution is for the fence to be moved to the other side of the ditch so it becomes my responsibility, but it's part of a very old estate, and as anybody who's ever tried to negotiate with an estate or big farm will know, sensible changes aren't often acceptable if they require even a tiny bit of land to change hands - no matter how unproductive or abandoned it is. In that instance all I would actually gain is the responsibility - and the acreage they would lose is a 1.5m deep ditch that isn't draining their own abandoned grant-paid planting. But I digress...


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