Post image for Tree Baskets

There is an irony about travelling to Canada to attend a workshop to learn about a practice that stems from the British Isles. As part of the IPA Canada 2017 conference, Evergreen staff, Luke Howie and Morgan Zigler provided a more natural approach to the use of loose parts. Evergreen is a Canadian organisation that is dedicated to making cities flourish through transformation of places into green spaces. It has lots of nature play projects, school yard transformations and other activities happening. 

Whilst we were free to use the abundant supply of willow and dogwood in anyway we wanted, I was fascinated to learn about tree baskets. Root compaction at the base of trees from lots of feet can impact on a tree’s ability to thrive. Likewise it is easy for a strimmer to accidentally whip against a tree when the grass is being tidied. Tree baskets protect the base of trees from both these hazards. They are also good fun to make and can be part of an approach to caring for newly planted trees in your grounds or outdoor space.

The approach is quite straightforward. Using a mallet, tap some low level stakes into the ground. Next find a pair of long willow rods of equal length. If you look at the photo, you may be able to see the 3D technique used. The rods are woven around the stakes, in an in-out manner. However as you do this, the weave also happens vertically, so the rod that is lowest to the ground, becomes twisted to move over the other rod between the stakes. As you add your rods, push them down and  keep tucking in the sticking out ends or snipping them off.

The result is a rather fetching decorative yet functional approach to protecting trees. Perfect for schools and early years settings which have willow structures that will shortly need pruning over the winter.

National Tree Week takes place from 25th November through to 3rd December. This celebrates the start of the tree planting season. Don’t just plant a tree, care for one too!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Felicity Robinson September 24, 2017 at 11:29

Thanks for sharing this idea. It may well be useful for the YMCA Orchard project I am working one. It’s more decorative than planting the trees through old tyres to protect them from strimmers, although in one school I know the children have also decorated their tyres very effectively, even adding 3D insect models.


Juliet Robertson September 24, 2017 at 11:46

I think the use of old tyres though is also a good option for those who don’t have access to willow rods or similar. Thanks for sharing this idea, Felicity.


jamie September 27, 2017 at 18:27

Love this idea and how cleaver a weave this could be for any age. Thank you~


Juliet Robertson September 27, 2017 at 19:34

Agreed its a good concept – I think younger children would need very thin/flexible rods but aside from that it’s just good.


Richard Anderson September 30, 2017 at 07:49

I like this method. The protection of trees from damage is simple and effective. It’s really good.


Felicity Robinson November 15, 2017 at 17:50

One additional comment, although I’m sure you will all have thought of this, but just in case…don’t use willow for the stakes in the ground as they will probably take root…!


Juliet Robertson November 15, 2017 at 18:18

Hello Felicity – thanks so much for this comment – I think it’s a sage reminder as the whips are ideal for weaving.


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