Along the Edges of an Herb Garden: A Wee Willow Fence

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A charming, rustic edge treatment for low-growing border plantings requires nothing more than a bundle of willow twigs or other prunings, and a little time.

Ankaret Dean of Oakville, Ontario, Canada, borrows the techniques of traditional wattle fences and willow basketry to create neat scalloped borders ranging from 6 to 24 inches high.

Her method is simple: For a low edging such as the one shown (about 6 inches high), push 18-inch willow stakes 2 inches into the ground at roughly 3-inch intervals for whatever length border you plan to make. Using pairs of longer, thinner willow twigs, twine around each upright stake—that is, weave one twig in front and behind adjacent stakes, while weaving the other twig behind and in front of the same stakes. Proceed in this fashion; as you come to the end of a twig, overlap a new one for several inches. Twine two or more rows to make a sturdy edge.

When you’ve completed the twining, simply bend the top of each stake over and drive it about 2 inches into the earth next to the second stake away, working it through the twining for stability.

Willow edging of this sort can be almost as durable as its less attractive plastic or metal counterparts, and is a lot more fun—and simple enough for children to make.

— Kathleen Halloran, health and environment reporter for the daily Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colorado, is designing the herb garden for her new home.