Cuttings are just that, you take a pair of hand nippers or brush trimmers and cut off sections or cuttings of the willow. The best cuttings are taken near the base of the plant. Try to cut the stems that are about the thickness of your finger. You then slice the cuttings into one or two foot sections and then just poke them into the soft moist mud along the shoreline. Try to get them into the mud as far as possible. One half of the cutting should be in the ground getting moisture, and the other half out worked for me in the past. You need to leave part of the plant out of the ground so the sun gets to the new leaves that will form in the spring.
I have seen the upside down planting mistakes happen in the past, so, don’t laugh. Make sure you don’t put them in upside down and put them in a sunny place, willows need lots of sunlight!
Fascines are tied bundles of willow or dogwood plants that are partially buried along the stream bank. Each bundle has about a dozen cuttings, each being about 4 to 6 feet long in length.
You need to dig a shallow horizontal trench, just above the waterline pointing downstream at about 45 degrees to the stream bank. Bury the bundle in the trench, with the tip end of the plants sweeping out in the stream. You only need about a foot of the plant sticking out of the trench. Too much of the tops sticking out will allow the water to catch them and possible pull them out. The soft tops should flex with the waters flow. Once the bundle is buried, I like to place some large rocks on top of the buried fascine to prevent scouring and to hold the plants in place until they root the following season.
Rich Redman is a retired District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and an avid outdoorsman. His column will appear regularly. He may be reached at email@example.com.