Monday, 19 October 2015

Willow erosion control

Newly installed spiling in the winter
If people have problems with eroding banks next to rivers and streams, live willow spiling installation could be the solution.  This low cost method of erosion control often works in areas that are not so easily accessible for either large machinery or where it would be difficult to transport hard landscaping materials.  If concrete piling or stone gabions are not an option and a gentler, cheaper solution which is better for local biodiversity is required, then live willow spiling could be perfect.

Willow won't grow everywhere, it does need plenty of sunlight for example, but unlike many other trees, its roots can withstand being inundated a few times a year and will grow below the waterline.

Spiling growing in the first summer after planting
These images show willow spiling installed in a domestic setting that has been very successful at shoring up the bank on the garden.  The residents are happy that the erosion has been stopped - especially as the bank is so close to the edge of their house!


  1. Live willow spiling is always installed in winter when the willow is not in leaf
  2. Willow needs plenty of sun if it is to thrive
  3. On steep banks, spiling can be installed in tiers
  4. The roots of the willow, once growing, bind the bank together and prevent further erosion from high water levels
  5. Spiling is pronounced to rhyme with 'filing' rather than 'filling'.  

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