Man Weaves Whimsical “Living” Fence Out of Willow Branches

August 19, 2021 at 6:53 pm

Kentucky artist weaves super strong fence from “invasive” willow tree branches

A Kentucky willow furniture maker took his craft to a new level during the pandemic by weaving a living willow fence.

Typically he weaves willow branches into various pieces of furniture, like rocking chairs, or small garden sculptures, but with extra time on his hands the last year and a half, he’s dedicated all his energy to his largest piece yet.

The 77-foot fence is constructed entirely of woven willow branches collected from roadsides, where it would otherwise be destroyed, Justin Roberts says.

He started the commissioned project 2 years ago, “but we had never intended to go this far with it. Then the pandemic happened, and they gave me permission to play.”

“It just kept going and going. I think I’ve got close to 700 hours in it, and well over 10,000 willow saplings collected on the sides of the roads, on the outskirts of town and throughout town off of KY 80,” Roberts told his local newspaper.

“I harvest it on the side of the road and around peoples’ ponds. Willow is this amazing plant that has the properties to pull heavy metals and toxic from the ground, and as it grows in these ditches, the road crews like to wood-chip it or spray chemicals on it, so to me, it’s almost like a race to see who gets to it first.”

Roberts’ fence is at least partially alive, as some of the branches have taken root in the ground.


“Now the question is to decide if we want to keep it growing and you could weave new pieces as they grow, and they will graft together and grow stronger.”

Each planted branch can turn into 4 to 12 shoots and each plant can be harvested for up to 28 years, he says.

The dried willow branches are impressively strong, as demonstrated by Roberts walking the fence.

The willow branches are wrapped around pre-existing concrete posts serve as the “foundation” of the fence.