Thursday, 20 February 2014

New Year, New Fedge

In the aftermath of the high winds (two of our chicken coops imploded and a huge crack willow fell) we decided we needed to work on creating some shelter for the chicken enclosure from the south easterly winds. After a bit of research we decided on a willow fedge, we had planted some small cuttings of willow and most seem to have taken but they are just too small to offer any protection. These will be transplanted elsewhere , and may in time be harvested as more fedge material.

A fedge is a cross between a fence and a hedge and offers an almost instantaneous permeable barrier. Research led us to many discussions on aerodynamics and  lots of diagrams about turbulence and eddies. Essentially a fedge filters the wind and calms it , the air which goes over the top is buffeted away by the filtered air below which prevents it from heading ground-ward.  This leads to improved air circulation on the side opposite the prevailing wind and the creation of a micro-climate. This micro-climate can serve many functions such as preventing soil erosion ,warming the soil and providing shelter for small birds and mammals. Our primary concern was to channel the wind away from our hen houses, so we concentrated on the area directly in front of them, The fedge itself is in the vegetable plot but  the hen houses are close by, we decided to build the fedge a metre away from the existing fence to allow access for maintenance to both the fence and the fedge. 

We began by banging a few 5ft posts in about 6ft apart we then made planting holes with a thin dibber a foot apart along the length of the fedge line, 2 willow whips 6-7ft long were placed side by side in each hole and pushed in to a depth of about 12 inches then the fun began! The weaving took longer than expected and it was definitely a 2 person job, as we needed to tie in the branches where they crossed to prevent them un-weaving. In essence one of the 2 whips goes left and the other right but they alternate between going in front of and behind at the points at which they cross the other whips.  Once the willow starts to grow we will need to continue to weave it in once it reaches about 6ft tall we will cut off the growing tips to encourage bushing out, also anything above this height it seems can create turbulence in the area we want to protect. We used biodegradable sisal twine to tie the crossing branches once the plants are established it will rot away, it is also possible that these crossed branches will graft to one another making the structure even stronger. we used mainly salix viminalis or Osier willow which we harvested from the farm we mixed this with a bit of coloured willow I got from a friend. We look forward to seeing it grow and hope it has the desired effect on the chicken coop.


  1. Very, very interesting! This is way cool Shaz!

    I hope it grows well, can we see a pic when it does?
    Thanks for telling us about this!
    Take care sweet.
    Rw x

    1. Of course, I was looking yesterday and I can see buds already!

  2. Yes indeedy ... very interesting ... what fun! .. and of course practical!

  3. Great idea, and should make for a decent bit of wind protection for your chooks.

  4. What a brilliant idea, something we might look into doing in our paddock, when we get to the final stage of our plans :-)