As the song goes, “Any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me…” but it does matter. To me, at least. Which is why we planted a windbreak along the back fence!
We decided to go with fast growing hybrid willows, which I talked about a little in my last post, but I thought I’d dedicate some time to these miracles of nature and show everyone our experience (so far) with growing them here in Idaho.
One of our neighbors had planted some around the perimeter of their acreage and we were blown away at how fast they grew in! So, after doing some research, late last summer we ordered 50 bare root starts from DirectGardening.com.
These are the fastest growing trees we know of for shade, privacy, wind protection and soil erosion. They can grow up to 20 feet in only one season! Trees are disease-resistant and do not spread by seed or suckers. They often reach 80-100 feet tall with lateral branches from the ground up. They have a life span of 70 years under good conditions.
While we waited for them to arrive, we enjoyed seeing all the ways willows are used in landscaping (aside from windbreaks). They make beautiful living fences:
And shady tunnels:
And lovely gazebos:
You can even make a willow teepee:
Other people have made benches, sculptures and elaborate structures using these willows but we just wanted to use them as a windbreak first. The fact that they can grow so tall, so fast, really appealed to us even more than the versatility of them.
Not that we aren’t excited about the idea of using them in other ways, because we are! The fact that willows are so easy to propagate ourselves makes that a real possibility in the future and we have a few ideas for using them in unique ways around the property. First, though, we have to wait for the ones we bought to grow big enough to take cuttings from.
It won’t be long, either. When they came last year they were basically just sticks.
We soaked them in water while we prepped the area to plant them in. We used plastic to block out the weeds and installed a water tank and drip line to make watering them easier.
We spaced them out 3′ apart so they will grow in a nice, tight row.
And within a matter of days they sprung to life.
You could almost watch them grow by the minute!
By the time they went dormant for winter, they were only a few weeks old but had already grown quite a bit.
Which is what they still look like now. They are just starting to show signs of new growth again so it will be exciting to see how big they get with a full growing season ahead. If they are anything like the photos or the ones our neighbors grew , we should have a nice 15-20 foot tall wall of willow by fall this year!
Which means we should be able to take some good cuttings to use in other areas and maybe even a few to sell. They also make a good root starter for other plants, so I’m excited to try that as well.
I will definitely post updates on these willows as we move into summer so check back here and definitely check out DirectGardening.com for more information and photos of these beauties.