How to Make a Willow Tree Sculpture

Updated February 21, 2017

While willow tree art has been gracing gardens for several generations, it's not well known. Willow is a versatile, easy to grow and easy to bend medium for this art. Living domes, flower bestowed arches, circle gardens of living wonder, trees formed into eye popping shapes are a few images of what has been created using the easy-to-root stalks of the water-loving willow tree. Even entire houses have been crafted out of living trees.

Make your design plan using books, information and ideas gathered while investigating willow tree art. Determine the number of willow stalks needed for your art form. Place these gathered stalks into a container of rooting stimulant, a vitamin B-12 based solution from a garden centre. Early spring is the best time for this. Be sure there is adequate water available for long-term watering.

Once roots are well established, plant each stalk in the shape for your growing art. Many folks make children's playhouses from them. For this, plant them in a circle, with the doorway marked by crossing stalks, tied together at the top to make an entrance. At the top where the sections cross, tie it in place using wire bread ties. This is easiest as ties can be removed later.

Before making the tie at the cross section, take your blade and make a small incision on each branch where the stalks meet and touch. They will fuse, growing together here. Remove the ties once each meeting section has clearly grown together and the ties have become a hindrance to further growth.

Continue this process of selecting stalks, pulling them together at the top, cutting at the cross section meeting point, and tying them into place. As you gather them at the top, the roof of the small, or large, living playhouse forms. Some will further the art-roof by leaving a lot of high stalks protruding upward, and in a few weeks, return to the structure to make more shaping once the lower stalks have fused. Plant climbing flowers at the base of the stalks for an even lovelier growing art house for your garden. Grapes can also work here if climate and soil supports this.


Not everyone roots their branches first. This is simply a security of success measure. Most willow will grow by being planted and watered.


Weeds can become a nuisance and interfere with your design. To remedy this, try ground cover cloth, a black woven fabric that prevents weedy takeovers.

Things You'll Need

  • Freshly soaked, rooted willow stalks
  • Razor blade
  • Shovel or trowel
  • Design plan
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About the Author

Johanna Parry Cougar began writing for local newspapers in 1975. She became a columnist, poet, grant writer and nonprofit director. She is published in newspapers and bioregional journals such as "Access" and "Raising Power." She holds certifications in art from the Art Institute of Seattle, and has taught sustainability, earth sculpting and green home construction in five nations.