How to make a cheap willow fence instead of a wooden fence

Before the advent of the home improvement store, gardeners and farmers alike made fences from materials they could find on their property. These materials included fast-growing plants like willow and alder that produce long and thin branches. These branches, when green, are perfect material for constructing a wattle fence. Used to enclose livestock and protect gardens, these fences have been around since medieval times. Constructing a wattle fence is like weaving, using branches instead of fibre. If you own willow trees or otherwise have access to plenty of their branches, wattle fences are a low-cost alternative to wooden fences and provide an attractive addition to any landscape.

Measure the perimeter of the area you wish to fence. Calculate the number of rebar stakes you will need if you are installing them every 4 feet on straight fence areas and every 3 feet on turns.

Cut the 1/2-inch diameter sticks into 2 inch lengths. You will need one 2-inch length for each rebar stake needed. These 2 inch pieces are end caps for the stakes.

Drill through the middle of the bottom of each cap made in the previous step. Drill about half way through the piece using a 1/2-inch drill bit.

Twist the end caps tightly on to the ends of the rebar stakes. Lay the stakes out on the ground where you will need them. You need one every 4 feet on straight sections, and one every 3 feet on turns.

Place the first stake into the ground in the location you set it at in the previous step. The capped end should be facing up. Pound the stake into the ground as straight as possible. Continue pounding until the stake is at least 1 foot into the ground.

Choose the thickest flexible willow branches to begin the weaving process. Starting at the beginning of the fence, weave a thick branch of willow through the rebar stakes. Push the branch as far down the stakes as is possible. Continue around the bottom of the fence until you reach the end.

Repeat Step 6 using thick branches to complete the remaining layers of willow. Continue weaving until the top willow branch touches the end caps on the rebar stakes.

Weave small, thinner branches in between the thicker ones to fill any gaps in the fence. Cut off any extra branches with loppers.


A tighter weave will result in a stronger fence. Green wood is the easiest and best to use for the willow fence. Check the fence frequently for wear and tear and replace branches as needed. Make a taller or shorter fence by adjusting the height of the rebar stakes. Drive longer stakes further into the ground for better support.

Things You'll Need

  • Rebar stakes, 6 feet long
  • Measuring tape
  • Wooden stick, 1/2-inch diameter
  • Drill with 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Mallet
  • Flexible willow branches
  • Loppers
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About the Author

Susan Patterson is a health and gardening advocate. She is a Master Gardener, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and a Certified Health Coach with vast experience working with organic gardening and nutrition. Her passions include sustainable living, organic foods and functional fitness. Patterson has been writing and presenting on health and gardening topics for 10 years.