The most important things in a nutshell
- You can get willow rods for a teepee from nurseries or municipalities.
- Build your willow teepee in February or March.
- Prune your teepee annually and water it regularly.
Willow tepee in the garden: advantages and disadvantages.
The model for a willow tepee are the tents of the Native Americans. They are cone-shaped and quick, as well as easy to assemble. However, there are other advantages as well: A teepee made of willow rods is very sturdy, and you can plant it with non-toxic climbing plants to quickly create a shady spot in your yard. Willows are also a good food source for bees, making a willow teepee ideal for insect-friendly and nature-oriented gardens.
The disadvantage of a teepee, however, comes from its shape: Because the walls are slanted, children and especially adults have very little room to stand. In addition, the willows take a year to become densely overgrown. This means they need an additional screen for the first few months if you want a shady spot in the garden. However, this is easily accomplished with annual climbing plants. If you want more standing space in the willow structure, build a willow igloo instead of a teepee. It has straight walls, but is a little more complex to build.
Where to get willow rods for the teepee?
If you want to build a wicker teepee, you will of course need wicker rods. However, they are not so easy to get. Willows are protected as important bee pastures. For this reason, you are not allowed to prune wild willows in the wild. Instead, contact your municipality or green waste office, where you are usually allowed to pick up cuttings to build your willow tipi. Also ask nurseries or garden centers if they have willow rods left over.
Building willow teepee: Construction time and tools
Start building a willow teepee in early spring between mid-February and late March. This will give the willow rods enough time to grow properly. You can also build the teepee later, but the project is not feasible in mid-summer. The temperature is usually too high for the willows to still grow. Building the willow teepee takes an afternoon, depending on your craftsmanship.
To build a willow tepee, you will need the following materials and tools:
- Sturdy willow poles (10 pieces each 3 meters long).
- Several flexible willow rods
- Battery saw
- Rope (about 1.2 meters long)
- Hemp rope (5 meters long)
- Work gloves
- Climbing plants (optional)
Building willow teepee step by step
- Choose a location for the willow teepee and measure the footprint. A diameter of two meters is sufficient. Drive a stake into the center of the base and tie a rope to it. At the other end, tie the spade to a distance of one meter. Draw a circle around the stake with the taut rope, using the spade to poke the outline of the teepee into the ground.
- Dig a trench about 40 centimeters deep and the width of a spade along the mark. Leave a gap of about 70 centimeters where the entrance to the teepee will be later.
- Then stick ten sturdy willow poles, three meters long, into the trench at a distance of 60 centimeters. At the upper end, lean the rods against each other and tie them together under the top with a rope. Cut off all the tips to stimulate sprouting.
- Now weave in flexible willow rods between the poles. The more you weave in, the more opaque the teepee will be next year. As with weaving, weave a narrow branch once over the wide branch and once under the wide branch. The distance between the horizontal branches is no more than 20 centimeters. Leave a gap that will later serve as an entrance.
- Finally, fill the trench back up with soil and water the willow rods well.
- The next year the willow dipi will be overgrown. Weave the new shoots at the tip into the willow weave to strengthen it. Cut off the shoots at the tip again.
Tips and ideas for willow tipis
Willow tipis are very durable with good care and proper planting. To do this, dig the willow poles well into the soil so that the roots form more quickly. Water your teepee regularly – it is a living structure. Especially in the summer, a good water supply is necessary. Protect the teepee with a tarp in the winter and prune the willows once a year. November or spring (February or March) is a good time for this.
You can also plant your willow tipi with non-toxic climbing plants. This is especially useful in the first year, since the willows are only really opaque after twelve months. Plant sugar snap peas or nasturtiums, for example, for this purpose – then the children will also have something to snack on, as both can be eaten directly from the plant. But don’t plant beans, they are poisonous raw. You can also read about which plants you should keep your hands off in our article Toxic plants for children.