How to Build a Willow Pergola

Written by linda marie
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How to Build a Willow Pergola
A willow pergola starts with freshly cut branches. (pussy-willow background image by wildman from

Add a natural, rustic look to your landscaping with a 4-foot by 6-foot willow pergola. The technique used here features wattle weaving, a traditional agricultural craft in many countries including England, Scandinavia, India and, with growing prominence, the United States. Although you may use any variety of willow branches, Salix viminalis is recommended by Colorado.Edu because the branches are long and flexible.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Loppers
  • Pruning shears
  • Eight 1-inch diameter, 5-foot-long freshly cut willow branches for cross rafters
  • 200-250 1/2-inch diameter freshly-cut willow branches in 2-foot to 4-foot lengths
  • Tape measure
  • Two 6-foot-long girders
  • 4 colonnades in 90-inch lengths
  • Post digger
  • Mortar
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Shovel
  • Level
  • Hammer
  • Nails

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  1. 1

    Strip all leaves and excess branches from all willow branches using loppers and pruning shears.

  2. 2

    Hammer your eight willow branches approximately 8 inches into the ground, evenly spacing them at 8-inch intervals. They should cover a 6-foot length.

  3. 3

    Starting at the bottom of your willow branch stakes, take a half-inch diameter branch and weave it through the stakes in an under/over pattern. Add more branches to completely reach the end of the 6-foot length. Do the next row using an over/under pattern. Continue until the roof is 4 feet wide. Look for sparse areas and fill in with additional willow branches.

  4. 4

    Use your loppers to cut the stakes at the ground. Lay the roof on the ground and trim until you have a finished 4-foot by 6-foot roof. Remove pieces of stakes from the ground and discard.

  5. 5

    Dig 4 holes that are 10 inches deep for your colonnades. Measure to be certain they are positioned perfectly to form a 4-foot by 6-foot pergola.

  6. 6

    Mix mortar in a 5-gallon bucket. Fill each hole partially with mortar. Position a colonnade into each hole and fill the remaining area with dirt. Use a level to be certain the colonnades are straight. Let mortar set up.

  7. 7

    Nail the two girders onto the colonnades to support the roof.

  8. 8

    Attach the roof to the girders by nailing through each of the eight willow branches that form the cross rafters.

Tips and warnings

  • Rent a posthole digger if you don't have access to one. It cuts way down on manual labour.
  • If you are using willow branches for colonnades, you may want to use 16-gauge copper wire to join several branches to form a sturdier colonnade.
  • While you may opt for willow colonnades to support the roof, consider the location of your willow pergola. Fresh willow branches root quickly and you could easily end up with a living willow pergola with roots that damage your septic and sprinkler system.

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