Teepees & Domes
Planting a Living Willow Tepee or Dome
The materials for the living willow tepee:
• Groundcover to suppress competition from other plants, which makes a lot of difference to how well the willows will grow.
(Use either plastic, weed control fabric, hemp or coconut fibre mats and bark mulch on top where required)
• Willow Rods for the uprights and diagonals
• Tying material (ideally flexible rubber ties, which stretch as the willow grows and thickens)
• A spade and possibly an old large screwdriver
The ground cover gets pushed in with a spade or lawn edger, to prevent it from lifting at the edges.
As long as the ground is moist enough, watering is not necessary when using a plastic sheet, as moisture will condensate below it and then trickly down to the base of the rods.
Either draw a circle (shown here using chalk) or take a bit of string the length of the diameter of the tepee, with two sticks tied to it at either end. Push one stick in the middle, then use the other stick to determine the circumference.
The willow rods for the uprights are being planted at even spacings, leaving a gap for the entrance.
Depending on the soil, the rods can be pushed straight in or, if the ground is harder, use something like a thick old screw driver to push them in.
The rods need to be planted 1 foot / 30 cm deep into the ground to allow good root formation.
The thinner rods for the diagonals are now planted inbetween the pairs of uprights, going into one direction first (here to the right), then repeating the process, planting the willows pointing to the left.
The places were the willows are crossing are tied with tubular ties.
The finished tepee!
Where plastic sheeting or weed control fabric has been used, this can now be covered with a thick layer of bark mulch.
The willows will start sprouting soon, providing a shady place to play and new shoots can be tied in or trimmed as required.