Head Start Willow Planting

Willow Planting methods

I have been using willow and tree bio-engineering techniques for riparian planting programs since 1997. The first time I planted willows and trees was on the Canmore Creek project, in Canmore, Alberta. From the very start, I have pre-rooted my cuttings or live stakes in a rooting medium, so that the plants would be well advanced by the planned planting time.

Planting with this method allows the willows and trees to be planted later on in the planting season, as opposed to the required early season planting with live stake planting methods.

If you are completing a fish habitat project that involves riparian planting along the streambanks, the time window for your in-stream activities may be restricted to the later part of the spring or early summer months. By pre-rooting and tending your plant cuttings in a convenient environment, you can control and insure good growth until the planting date, later on in the season.

With pre-rooted cuttings, you can trench them into the ground, pilot a hole with a pin bar or pre-drill a hole for the placement of the rooted part of the live stake. Then the hole around the plant can be filled with a slurry of soil and water, with some sand added to the bottom of the hole being optional. After which you can tamp around the hole with your foot, to insure that no air gets to the vulnerable root systems.

Above Photo: This is a willow cutting that was planted 15 months earlier, along a creek.

Above: This is a 2000 photo of willow plants that were planted along the top of a 30 metre log wall on Canmore Creek, in the Town of Canmore, Alberta. The willows and trees were planted in 1998 and by now have started to show some rapid growth. Note the amount of  coal mining tailings in the stream channel!

Above: This is a 2009 photo of the same log wall with both willow and trees now established along the top of the stucture. Note how the stream channel has cleaned itself of coal mining tailings and the slope above the log wall has stabilized.

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