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Willow Structures


Devondaisy
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I'm thinking about building a willow dome or wigwam in a corner of the pre-school garden, as the children really love dens, and we don't have the money for a wooden structure. We often use a pop-up tent which is popular, but the garden is very windy so it isn't always possible.

 

Just wondered if anyone had done anything like this? Is it easy? Any tips? How much maintenance is involved (as this will no doubt fall to me!) I'm quite excited about the idea, but don't wantto bite off more than I can chew!

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I've helped build three willow dens with a guy who does it professionally. It was great fun and the structures have been well worthwhile as dens.

 

I wouldn't try to build one without training and they do need someone to keep weaving new growth in. This should only be five or so minutes a week through the summer.

 

A new structure does need lots of watering.

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We have a willow walk, sort of tunnel when its in full leaf. The children love it.

 

In November the living willow will be cut and so you should be able to buy it in bundles.

 

You could be preparing the ground now. Mark out the perimeter of your structure, dig a trench 6.inches deep and fill with compost, keep it watered. When the willow is ready, place the sticks where you need them and then make individual holes 4 inches apart and 12-18 inches deep.

 

If you can use a metal pole about the same diameter as the willow and then fill the hole with compst before putting in the sticks.Water well and keep watering regularly for the next year.

 

You can tie the sticks at the top at the required length or bend them into shape.

 

You will need to put extra sticks from the base of the sticks and tie them in diagonlly in both directions if you are making a tunnel or dome to give you the necessary support.

 

Its like weaving on a large scale.

 

Now how do I know all this well I turned up at a willow farm a few days ago only to find that ,yes, they had willow ready but it was the dead sort , not what you need in a windy area. I had spent over an hour looking for the place, although when I rang prior to my visit for directions and to ask if they had willow for this type of construction I had received lots of info. I received even more as I stood in the pelting rain when I finally found the place . I am pretty sure I have remembered all the right bits and we did, something similar three years ago when we built the last one but with cross pieces this one should last longer.

 

You can buy willow on line, but if you want to see it ,the farm is in Weston Zoyland nr Bridgewater Somerset.

I think there are several places near there who will send you bundles too.

 

Oh yes remember to make any structure high enough for any adult to crawl into or through, the younger children will hide and suddenly

become hard of hearing when it's time to go into the nursery again.

 

Best of luck

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