How to make your own willow branch trellis

Updated July 20, 2017

A willow branch trellis gives a garden rustic charm, while providing support for climbing greenery, flowers and vegetables. A willow trellis is a common fixture in many country and cottage gardens, but can easily fit into any natural setting. Willow is a fast grower and produces long, straight, pliable branches, which makes it an ideal material for a trellis. A willow trellis is easy to make and can be as simple or as intricate as your imagination will allow. You don't have to be artisan to make a trellis, as imperfections just add to thw natural charm.

Decide on a location for the trellis to help determine its size and shape. A trellis over a walkway or sitting area has to be tall enough to walk through. If you plan to grow flowers or vines on it, consider the sun requirements of the plant. Climbing roses will need more sun than ivy, for example.

Cut willow branches in the spring and summer when most soft and pliable. If you don't grow any type of willow on your property, check with local farmers, neighbours and along roadsides. If you can't find any willow in the wild, buy live willow at nurseries and garden centres and grow your own.

Decide how you are going to attach the trellis. A trellis needs grounded or attached to something to keep it from falling over or blowing away. Stick willows in large dirt-filled garden containers placed above ground or inserted below the soil line or insert willow branches directly in the ground. Wire the base onto tent stakes for extra support.

Cut four 15-foot green, flexible branches two to three inches in diameter for the frame. Cut eight 15-inch green or dead branches one inch in diameter for the crossbars. Cut several 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick branches in various lengths for weaving a design or pattern. Use branches within 24 hours of cutting or soak the cut ends in water until ready to use.

Strip off all leaves, loose bark and twigs.

Lay two of the frame branches side-by-side 12 inches apart. Place a crossbar over the two frame branches 15 inches from the bottom, allowing the crossbar to overlap the frame. The overlap will allow for shrinkage as the green wood dries. Wire crossbar on the frame with copper wire. Repeat with the remaining two frame branches and another crossbar.

Position trellis across the walkway and secure branches in the ground or container.

Bend the first set of willow branches at the top to create an arch, positioning at the desired height. Overlap, twist together and connect with copper wire. Repeat with the other two branches.

Connect remaining crossbars to the frame, wiring them loosely until you get them positioned correctly. The spacing between the crossbars will vary, depending on how tall the trellis is.

Weave thin branches through crossbars and frame, creating a pattern or design as you go. Weave up and down frame and across crossbars. Fasten with floral wire.

Allow the trellis to dry for one season. Check wiring and adjust for shrinkage. Secure frame and crossbars further with small nails or screws. Treat dried trellis with a weather sealant to protect from the elements.

Plant grapevine, clematis, sweet peas, pole beans, morning glories, climbing roses or other favourite climbers in the ground and weave through the trellis.

Things You'll Need

  • Willow branches
  • Loppers
  • Pruners
  • 4 terracotta pots, 15 inches deep
  • Copper wire or plastic coated wire
  • Floral wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Nails or screws
  • Weather sealant
  • Perennial or annual climbers
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About the Author

Lisa Gregor has been writing off and on for 40-plus years. She has been writing how-to articles for eHow since January 2009 and on her blog She is working on two children's books, a fiction novel and has plans to write a series of budget (frugal living) books.