Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wattle Fencing

by Pam Hillman

Like many of the HHH bloggers, my blog posts come out of some obscure fact that I need while writing my novels. Today’s blog is no exception. I needed to know a bit about wattle fencing for the latest novel I’m working on.

In colonial times, wattle fencing was the best way to protect the garden from rabbits and other critters intent on eating up a family's food plot. While some fences were built to keep wild animals out, some were built to keep domesticated animals in.

Anyway, as soon as the subject of wattle fencing came up, I knew I had to at least have a working knowledge of the process. But before I get to that, let me tell you what wattle fencing is, and a bit of the history behind it.

Most of us probably associate wattle fencing with medieval times, but it’s still in use in some parts of Europe and other parts of the world today. Historically, these fences were utilitarian, but there are many instances where they are merely ornamental. It’s a great way to build a fence if the goal is to keep out small animals. And in some cases, the fences can become living hedges capable of turning away larger animals.

Wattle fencing can be made from a variety of wood, but one of the best options is willow. By using sturdy willow posts about two feet apart, and weaving flexible willow saplings — “suckers” or “withies” — in and out of the posts, gardeners down through the ages have created strong, sturdy blockades to keep rabbits and other small animals out of their food plots.

Depending on the type of animals attacking their gardens, they might have to build a taller fence with sturdier materials. Even if the fence is already completed and is only three to four feet tall, smaller limbs and twigs can be added to the top to form a taller barrier that might turn away a deer.

Now, the cool part about willow fences. Willow tends to take root and suckers will grow up, twining in and out of the fence. All this extra growth might not be aesthetically pleasing to someone who just wants a pretty fence, but I imagine any farmer’s wife who was fortunate enough to have their wattle fence take on a life of its own was happier than a pig in a wallow.

If the posts took root, then maintenance would be so much easier, keeping those unwanted critters out of the precious vegetable garden that had to feed the family for the winter.

Some farmers even took the idea of a small wattle fence a step further and “pollarded” or “coppiced” willow trees so they would have a supply of sucker growth to keep their fences in repair and to construct other willow crafts (as in rocking chairs and baskets).

The best time to build a willow fence is in the springtime when the suckers and new growth are green and supple. It's much harder to work with come summer as my poor characters found out. But even in summer, willow can be soaked to make it more pliable.

There are some amazing examples of woven wattle fences on the internet and I would love to post them here, but don't want to infringe on anyone's copyright. I pinned several here on this Wattle Fencing Pinterest board. Enjoy! 

And then I found this video where these ladies made a wattle fence. The end is really cute. Love the moss they added.

All this research (and the video!) has me itching to make a wattle fence. Hmmm, I suppose I need to plant a garden first.

Have you ever seen a wattle fence, or possibly even built one yourself?

I'm so excited to let y’all know that The Road to Magnolia Glen, book #2 in my Natchez Trace Novel series released last week. Squee! To celebrate, Tyndale is hosting TWO really cool giveaways.

Click HERE to enter!

They’re also hosting a kitchen-themed giveaway at, including a set of colorful bowls, Mason Jar measuring cup set (which is the cutest thing ever!), and a copy of both The Promise of Breeze Hill & The Road to Magnolia Glen. You can enter this giveaway HERE. Ends in six days (I’m not sure if that’s the 18th or the 19th, so don’t put it off and miss out.)

Enter Goodreads Giveaway!

They’re also giving away ONE HUNDRED digital copies on Goodreads. Wow! Hop over to Goodreads to enter the giveaway HERE. Ends June 30th.

Even if you already have a copy of both (or either) books, feel free to enter. If you win, you can gift the books to your BFF. (I’d keep the bowls and the Mason Jar measuring cups if it was me. Just sayin’)

And thanks to everyone who's read and reviewed my books. I love to hear from you, so if you've posted a review, blogged about one of my books, or given me a shout-out on a social media platform, let me know. I love to share what you share!


  1. This was really interesting! If I dared plant a garden, it would have to have this type of fence I think, as we saw our resident woodchuck on our lawn just recently. And I am positive that he would love the tender shoots of those seeds! Thanks for the interesting post!

    1. Connie, I agree, it could definitely keep the smaller critters out.

  2. Really interesting, Pam. I didn't know what a wattle fence was.

  3. Very interesting. I have never heard of wattle fencing. Thanks for the info.

    1. Well, there ya go! A new tidbit to share at your next dinner party! :)

  4. I didn't know about wattle fencing either. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Another series I must read with all the history.

  6. Very interesting post Pam. I enjoyed the video of building the wattle fence.
    Blessings, Tina