Willow Wattling  hand in water' The Veins of Life
Watershed Society



In addition to a riparian livestock fencing project in Saanich, the 2001 Veins of Life E-Team crew worked on a restoration project called willow wattling.  Willow wattling is technique used to stabalize stream banks, to provide streamside cover and also to provide for filtration and absorption of agricultural runoff.  Pacific Willow (Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra) is a preffered species due to its fast growing nature, ability to thrive at high nutrient levels and tolerance to seasonal flooding. The willow is also ideal because once established, it quickly shades out and out-competes invasive species such as canary grasses which proliferate in open areas. Clippings of willow are gathered and tied together to form a long 'wattle' which is then placed in a trench in the stream bank.  The wattle is staked into the ground at regular intervals with a large diameter cutting of willow trimmed and soaked for a minimum of 24 hours. In the spring, the willow should be able to shoot leaves and establish a root system for healthy growth. 


Figure 1:  A proudly displayed willow wattle.



A.  Training and Planning

The team supervisor gave instructions regarding the proper clipping and pruning techniques  to be used as well as the appropriate length and thickness of the clippings.  To ensure a high success rate, it is recommended that willow is cut and planted in wattles during the local dormant season.  

B.  Equipment Used

Clippers, twine, planting shovels, buckets for watering, latex gloves and PPE.

C.  Construction of the Wattle

When a sufficient amount of clippings had been acquired the team grouped and tied them together into a large wattle ready to be buried.


Figure 2:  The wattle's new home in a trench along the stream bank. Losely covered with soil, the willow clippings will shoot new growth come springtime.


D. Conclusion

With a new fence to keep out grazing livestock and willow wattling secure and ready for spring, this area of the local watershed is on its way to rejuvination.

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