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Soil and Spacing
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.
As with all planting, 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 60cm (2ft) intervals in the row and 90cm (3ft) between rows. For a thicker or denser hedge they can be planted closer still - at 45cm or even 30cm apart.
For coppice or logs a 90cm x 90cm (3ft x 3ft) 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 90cm to 1m (3ft) apart with 1.5-2m 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 7m 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 on whether rooted or unrooted trees would be appropriate for your situation. Further information can also be found in the After-Planting Care for suggestions as your trees grow.
For new native countryside hedging, we would recommend planting two staggered rows. This will make them more likely to be stockproof and provide more shelter than a single row. Wider hedges are also of more wildlife value as they provide additional habitat. On average, we would advise between 4-6 plants per metre and approximately 30cm between the rows.