As it so happens, we live right next to Douglas Park, one of Chicago’s great city parks. And through some mysteriously lucky circumstances, a landscape crew started to clear the invasive brush in the natural areas of the park last fall. That included large stands of willow.
I walked over to the crew supervisor and asked if he would mind if I pulled some willow branches out of the brush piles they cut. He didn’t mind at all, and so began another seemingly endless salvaging project of mine.
To make the weaving work, I had to get branches that were as long as or longer than the panel section. That would allow me to weave it from that start to the end of each panel.
I have shorter panels of four and a half feet (perpendicular to the road) and longer panels of up to seven feet (parallel to the road). The shorter panels require shorter willow branches, which are also generally thinner and thus easier to bend. I subsequently spaced the rebar in the short panels six inches on center. That was almost too tight as I sometimes had difficulties pulling the willow through.
The rebar in the longer panels was spaced 12 inches on center to accommodate the longer and thus thicker willow branches. That spacing made bending and the weaving process pretty smooth.
To get each panel filled evenly, I had to alternate a thick willow end with a thin willow end. And I had to make sure that each woven branch was firmly pushed down.
Once a panel was filled, I cut of the willow ends, pushed them in and locked them in place with a three quarter by three quarter blocking. That gave each panel a nice finish.
If you have read some of my previous posts, you know that I was concerned about the rebar being snatched by scavengers. Well, let me tell you, the friction of the woven willow panel makes it virtually impossible to pull out that rebar. The only way to remove it would be to remove the willow first. I don’t think anyone is going to bother with that.