How to Make a Willow Trellis

An expandable willow trellis opens and closes like an accordion, can be adjusted to the dimension that you require and can collapse entirely for storage. It is ideal for supporting climbing plants on walls and fences, as well as being used as a screen to create a divide or create a private setting within your garden.

Once more, a willow trellis is environmentally friendly built entirely from an organic material, willow. The most popular kind of willow that produces stems suitable for making a trellis is brown willow (Salix alba), but green or hurdle willow that will do just as good a job.

For the range that we provide, please go to:

Things You Will Need

  • Thick gardening gloves
  • Willow rods
  • Pruning shears or secateurs
  • Permanent pen marker
  • Safety goggles
  • 1/16 inch drill bit
  • Drill
  • Garden wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Needle-nose pliers

For our selection of tools that have been handmade by British Craftsmen, please look around our store.

How-To Guide

  1. Before constructing your expandable willow trellis, it is best to plan ahead. Place willow rods on the ground near the outside space you wish to put it. By placing one layer of the willow rods equally spaced and leaning diagonally from left to right, and a second layer on top leaning in the opposite direction, from right to left you will get the idea of what your trellis will look like and the size when fully expanded.
  2. To create the desired trellis shape (for example square or rectangle), cut the ends of the willow rods off with pruning shears or secateurs. With a permanent marker make a dot at the centre where two rods cross.
  3. For this step, it is advisable to wear your safety goggles. With a drill, make a hole through the marked dot where the willow rods cross, making sure you lean firmly on the top rod to hold it into place. By making the willow rod secure, the drill bit will pass through both rods and out the bottom precisely.
  4. With wire cutters, cut the garden wire into 3 inch long pieces. Count the amount of drill points there are where the willow rods cross and cut the equal amount of pieces.
  5. With the 3 inch long piece of garden wire, push one end through a drilled hole where two willow rods cross by using needle-nose pliers making sure there is equal length of the wire emerging from the top and the bottom rod. With the ends of the wire, bend towards each other using the pliers so the ends meet and then twist them together.
  6. By threading the wire through the drilled holes and twisting the wire ends together at the same time where they cross, you will join all the rods together.

Tips to Remember:

  • By avoiding the drill bits slipping of the rounded rod surfaces, drill lightly to create a small hole before pushing down more firmly. Alternatively, you can use an awl to create a hole if you find it a bit tricky.
  • If you are using green willow rods to build your trellis, make sure you check and tighten the wired joints as once the willow dries out, it shrinks considerably.
  • During the winter months, it is advisable to store your willow trellis indoors as this will prolong its life.
  • Avoid using willow rods that have been stripped of its bark because it rots quickly.


With any fencing make from natural material, it should be treated after a year after the sap in the wood has dried out. Only then, will the preserver penetrate effectively. The most popular and organic preserver is the 50/50 method, which consists of Linseed oil and turpentine. By mixing equal measurements, coat the expandable trellis to increase the life and look of your expandable trellis.


For our aftercare treatment and other accessories, please visit our books, tools and sundries section.


A trellis can bring interest to patios, sheds and forgotten corners and even create archways and walking routes around larger outdoor space. Let your imagination run wild! Here we have listed several ideas in which you can add something unique yet versatile to your external living area.

Swap your traditional fencing panels with an expandable trellis – Trellises are much less likely to be blown down in bad weather as wind will just pass through the holes. By planting trailing plants in a bed below your trellis, this will give you an all year round bloom and a bit of privacy from those prying eyes!


  • Mirror mirror – By attaching a mirror to your trellis, this will give your garden a look of more space if you have a smaller garden. Consider what could be reflected across the garden, so that anyone who visits can admire from near and afar.
  • The quirky touch – By adding a selection of traditional terracotta pots, wrapped with raffia and a top dressing of moss to your organic trellis, you will give a quirky and a sense of uniqueness to your garden or outer wall. Fix your pots securely with garden wire or galvanized wire.
  • Seeing both sides – By making use of both side of your trellis, you could add colourful glass lanterns by hammering nails or tacks to hang them on. Light the tea lights at night to create a romantic yet natural atmosphere to your garden/patio area.
  • Unique tool holder – Why use a shed or box to store your garden tools in, when a trellis will provide you with a unique way of storing them. Using a trellis will create a natural perch for your garden tools and twine as well as a display of practicality. By using hooks and twine, your garden tools will be easy to retrieve, especially in the seasons where they will be used every other day.