How to look after willow items

How to look after  dried willow items 

All willow items that are kept inside or under shelter are likely to last for many years and can be brushed of cleaned with a soft brush/cloth they can also be gently washed with care.

Keeping willow items outside

All willow by its nature will start to degrade if it’s left outside in the elements and is repeatedly soaked or frozen so it best to place it in a place where there is good air circulation and some protection.

Items made from buff  willow ( willow with no bark) is not suitable for use outside all year around as it will degrade much more quickly  so is best to only put items  outside in the dry months.

Brown items ( willow which still has its bark ) can cope better with the elements.

To help to preserve your items

It is best to cover your item when it is very wet weather.

Any part of the sculpture that is in contact with the ground will be the first to decay and so attract insects such as woodlice, so placing it on dry ground such as gravel, or a grassed area that has good drainage where it is slightly raised from the ground or of the ground  so that the air can flow can go around it is the best option .

Untreated items such as birdhouses/ bird feeders, plant trellis etc. are likely to last for 2- 3 years but that depends on use and where it is sited.

If it kept dry etc., if treated it will last longer 5 or more years outside.

You may be able to repair and patch your items with more willow or other hedgerow materials if you want to.

Please note that the willow will change in colour and take on different variations in time, this is normall.

When is it better to not use a preservative? If your item is going to be used by animals e.g. a bird house or bird feeder or you have animals who are likely to chew your item. Or if someone has an allergy to the preservatives.


Make sure that your item is thoroughly dry before you start. Then spray or brush on your chosen preservative. Always be aware of potential allergies etc and suitability.

  • Traditionally a 50:50 boiled linseed oil or Danish oil and turpentine/ turps substitute or 1:3 boiled linseed and white spirit  is used for wood preservation.
  • An alternative option is to use a semi-transparent wood preserver that is described as penetrating, whichever you choose ideally you want to choose a product can be thinned doun or is already watery in consistency.

Once you’ve treated your item leave it for a few hours and then check it again to see if it needs another coat. Often willow growers recommend that you repeat this every 6 months to one  year if it is protected from harsh weather.

Please note that willow items  can be flammable if you put them next to a naked flame and burn quickly if out on a fire , so it’s best to use led lights to light them 


 Jacquie www.jaxsarts.couk