Soil Type and Preparation
Experience shows that both the Willows and Poplars will grow in any soil type but will thrive best in a reasonably drained soil of pH 5 to 7.5 They will however cope with very wet and boggy conditions.
It is wise to remove all perenial weeds before planting, either by cultivation or by translocated herbicides. (Glyphosate which is sold as Roundup, Gallup, Tumbleweed and other names is very effective).
Cultivation is not normally necessary unless the soil is badly compacted in which case ploughing, digging or rotory cultivating is advisable. Fertiliser application is not necessary in the first year unless the soil is very poor.
For screens and windbreaks willows should be planted in double or triple row at two feet apart in the row and three feet between rows. For a thicker or denser hedge they can be planted closer still - at 18 inches or even one foot apart.
For coppice or logs a 3' x 3' spacing is adequate. It is becoming increasingly popular to plant four or five rows of willows with the aim of harvesting one row for logs each year and thereby gaining an annual log supply without losing the windbreak or screen. The willows will quickly regenerate after harvest and will even tolerate an annual harvest of one year old shoots for goat fodder.
Poplars are best planted three feet apart with six feet between the rows. For a solid barrier of Poplar it is possible to cut off alternate trees at knee height after four years or when the trees are about 24ft high. This encourages bushy regeneration from ground level and a solid barrier of vegetation.
Planting of both Willows and Poplars may be carried out at any time in the dormant season - between early-November and mid-May. It is generally better to plant earlier rather than later.
Click on Cuttings & Trees for recommendations and planting instructions and on After-Planting Care for suggestions as your trees grow.
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