How to Make a Wattle Fence with Natural Branches

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How to make a wattle fence: Learn to create a charming, eco-friendly wattle fence using natural branches with our step-by-step guide.

wattle fence

We are making some big changes to our garden this year. At the end of last season, we realized we don’t have enough preserved fruit & vegetables to last us all winter long, and we didn’t like that feeling haha. So we decided we will expand our garden. But with that comes a lot of extra work: gardening, weeding, etc. That’s when we began experimenting with permaculture gardening, and we are now building out a full, permaculture garden (more on that in another post, coming soon).

Part of our design was , to protect out garden beds from our chickens. wattle fencing We had seen it in a few other gardens, and really liked the natural appearance. Another plus is the low cost: we sourced all the long branches from our nearby forests. This project was so much fun, and we love the look of our rustic wattle fence. With this simple guide and a little bit of persistence, you can have garden fencing just like it! 

building a wattle fence

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Wattle Fence Perks 

  • Low cost: we sourced all different types of wood and branches from our nearby forests. The only thing we ended up purchasing were the impregnated stakes, but those came out to be very cheap. A wattle fence makes a very cheap garden fence.
  • Natural Fencing: We love the natural look of this fence. It fits in beautifully with our permaculture design and the overall feel of our farm. 
  • Wind & Animal protection: Thanks to the woven lattice structure of the wattle fence, it provides protection from strong winds that could otherwise wreck parts of our garden. When we close the entire garden off, it will also provide protection from wild animals as well as our chickens. 

Supplies

  • wood stakes 
  • long branches 

The number of stakes and amount of branches depends on how long of a fence you’re building. You also need to evaluate how long the branches you will be using/sourcing are, and that will dictate how far part the stakes need to be. 

For our fence, we placed the stakes 80 cm (30″) apart. For each segment, we used about 40 branches, around 2.5m (8’ft) long. Our wattle fence is about 1m (3ft) tall.

Tools

  • sledgehammer for driving stakes into the ground 
  • metal rod to help with creating holes for upright stakes
  • small hand saw for cutting branches 

Instructions

  1. Measure out the area where you want to build your wattle fence, and decide on the desired height. 
  2. Survey your area, and see how long the branches you will be using area. Based on that, decide how far apart you will place your stakes. 
  3. Measure out regular intervals for the stakes, and drive them into the ground. Our soil is pretty hard, so we had to use a metal rod to create a hole first, before driving the upright stakes into the ground. You can use different materials for the stakes, we decided to go with impregnated wood that we purchased. However you can also use thicker branches, or even metal stakes. 
  4. Once all your upright stakes are in place, it’s time to start weaving with the wattle method. This is best show visually, so take a look at the video above to see this done. In summary, you place a long branch behind one stake, and weave it in front of the other, so that it stays put in place. Start at the bottom and continue moving upwards, each time placing the branches on the opposite side of the stake. 
  5. You will soon start to see the wattle design emerge. When you get to the end post, make sure to line up the long stick ends evenly, to create a neat finish. 

FAQ

What materials are best for making a wattle fence?

  • Stakes: Use sturdy, rot-resistant wood like oak, chestnut, or treated wood.
  • Withies: Willow, hazel, or any other pliable branches work best for weaving.

How long does it take to build a wattle fence?

  • The time required depends on the size of the fence and your experience. A small section can be completed in a few hours, while a larger project may take several days.

What are the first steps for making a wattle fence?

  • Clear the area of debris and grass, mark the positions for the stakes using string and measuring tape, and ensure the ground is level.

How deep should the stakes be driven into the ground?

  • Stakes should be driven at least 1 foot into the ground to ensure stability.

Can I build a wattle fence in any climate?

  • Yes, wattle fences can be built in various climates. However, the durability of the fence will depend on the type of wood used and weather conditions. Using rot-resistant wood and applying natural wood preservatives can help increase longevity.

What is the best time of year to build a wattle fence?

  • Winter and early spring are ideal times to gather and work with willow and hazel as they are more flexible during these seasons.

How do I maintain a wattle fence?

  • A natural fence requires a little more maintenance. Periodically check for loose withies or leaning stakes and make necessary adjustments. Applying a natural wood preservative can help protect the fence from the elements.

Can I use other types of wood for the withies?

  • Yes, any flexible and pliable branches can be used. Willow and hazel are popular choices, but other types of wood can work as long as they are bendable.

How high can a wattle fence be built?

  • Wattle fences are typically between 3 to 6 feet high. However, the height can be adjusted based on your needs and the stability of the structure.

Is it possible to make curved wattle fences?

  • Yes, wattle fences can be designed to follow a straight line or gentle curves, adding aesthetic appeal to your garden. The flexible nature of the withies allows for curved designs.

Do I need to soak the withies before weaving?

  • Soaking the withies in water for a few hours can make them more pliable and easier to weave, especially if they are dry, but you don’t have to. 

Can a wattle fence be used as a privacy screen?

  • Yes, a tightly woven wattle fence can provide privacy and serve as a natural barrier.

Can I build a wattle fence around my chicken coop?

  • Yes, a wattle fence is a great option for keeping chickens fenced in. 

Tips

  • Choose the right season: Winter and early spring are ideal times for gathering and working with willow and hazel as they are more flexible.
  • Select flexible branches: Willow and hazel are ideal due to their flexibility.
  • Soak the branches: If they are too dry, soak them in water for a few hours to make them more pliable.
  • Clear the area: Remove any grass or debris where the fence will stand.
  • Mark the stake positions: Use string and measuring tape to ensure evenly spaced stakes.
  • Check alignment: Ensure stakes are aligned properly by sighting down the line and adjusting as necessary.
finished wattle fence

How to Make a Wattle Fence with Natural Branches

Prep Time: 3 hours
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 4 hours

How to make a wattle fence: Learn to create a charming, eco-friendly wattle fence using natural branches with our step-by-step guide.

Materials

  • wood stakes
  • long branches

Tools

  • sledgehammer for driving stakes into the ground
  • metal rod to help with creating holes for upright stakes
  • small hand saw for cutting branches

Instructions

  1. Measure out the area where you want to build your wattle fence, and decide on the desired height. 
  2. Survey your area, and see how long the branches you will be using area. Based on that, decide how far apart you will place your stakes. 
  3. Measure out regular intervals for the stakes, and drive them into the ground. Our soil is pretty hard, so we had to use a metal rod to create a hole first, before driving the upright stakes into the ground. You can use different materials for the stakes, we decided to go with impregnated wood that we purchased. However you can also use thicker branches, or even metal stakes. 
  4. Once all your upright stakes are in place, it's time to start weaving with the wattle method. This is best show visually, so take a look at the video above to see this done. In summary, you place a long branch behind one stake, and weave it in front of the other, so that it stays put in place. Start at the bottom and continue moving upwards, each time placing the branches on the opposite side of the stake. 
  5. You will soon start to see the wattle design emerge. When you get to the end post, make sure to line up the long stick ends evenly, to create a neat finish. 

Notes

The number of stakes and amount of branches depends on how long of a fence you're building. You also need to evaluate how long the branches you will be using/sourcing are, and that will dictate how far part the stakes need to be.

Tips

  • Choose the right season: Winter and early spring are ideal times for gathering and working with willow and hazel as they are more flexible.
  • Select flexible branches: Willow and hazel are ideal due to their flexibility.
  • Soak the branches: If they are too dry, soak them in water for a few hours to make them more pliable.
  • Clear the area: Remove any grass or debris where the fence will stand.
  • Mark the stake positions: Use string and measuring tape to ensure evenly spaced stakes.
  • Check alignment: Ensure stakes are aligned properly by sighting down the line and adjusting as necessary.

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