How to plant willows. A practical and detailed photoguide

First of all, you should know that’s not as easy as it may seem. Be ready to get dirty!

  1. Determine the location. Try to find portions of the rivers that suffer less from pasturing (for example, in such places where the arable land almost borders with the river) and where less people are roaming. Try to evade zones with a lot of reed, or cut it down around the sapling, because there is a high probability the reed will be set on the fire.
  2. Find donor trees. It is best if they are young, because the older ones may not be very healthy (affected by fungi or bacteriosis). It is also advisable that these trees are as close as possible to the planting site. If you can find only the large trees, estimate (or check) if you can climb into them and reach the suitable branches.
  3. Prepare the necessary tools: a small or a big hacksaw to cut branches off the tree, a secateur in order to clean them of smaller branches and excess leaves, a metal bar to make holes in the riverbank, easing the planting.
  4. Do not feel bad about cutting branches off the tree: willows do not suffer too much from that, reacting just by more intense growth. It is actually their natural way of survival and propagation. And, after all, most of the trees use pruning to renew themselves (formative pruning, renewal pruning). So, you can safely cut the branches that are “unpromising” for the tree, looking downwards, growing towards the interior of the tree (and not getting enough light), or the ones that are growing too densely.
  5. We consider that in our conditions more chances have those saplings that have a height of 1,5 m. or more, with the diameter at the base of 1-2 cm. It is best if they are straight or close to straight, as then it is easier to stick them into the riverbank. The height that remains above the soil will provide the sapling with more chances to survive, especially if its trunk is protected against rodents and cattle.
  6. It is recommended to plant willows as close to the water as possible (20-30 cm. to the water) and deeply, 50-60 cm. down into moist soil. Now, that is also not easy. So, we propose to use a metal bar to make a deep hole beforehand, and also widen it as much as possible; after that, the actual willow sapling is stuck into it. It is advisable to mark the portion of the trunk that should go into the ground.
  7. Protect the upper part. We have used the white paint “Grădinarul” (“Gardener”) from Supraten, as many sources indicate that it can protect the bark of the sapling against rodents and cattle. You can also use other materials, including recycled ones – plastic bottles could be just an example.

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