Wattle is woven wood fencing. Hurdles are woven wattle fencing panels. Historically moveable hurdles were employed for pasture and livestock rotation. We have been wattle making (wattling) since Neolithic times.
How To Weave A Wattle Fence
The upright stakes are sometimes called “sales” and the saplings called ‘weavers’. Hazel, willow, sweet chestnut, plum, forsythia or any supple, long, straight, slender saplings make good weavers. Newly cut, green wood is best and easiest. Willow is an exception as it can be soaked to become more supple. Use thin, long branches -or- larger saplings that are cut down the center (cleft) as ‘weavers’. (See video below on how to cleft a sapling.) The saplings you choose should be long enough to weave around at least three stakes (preferably more) for stability. The weavers are woven around the ‘sales’ like basketry. The simplest weave would be to weave each row of saplings alternating around the stakes, the next row is woven on the opposite side of the stake from the sapling below it. Each sapling row should be firmly pressed down.
Hard wood is a good choice for the sales. Beware if you use willow as stakes as your fence just might take root and come alive, it will turn out strong, but you would need to trim it each year.
Wattle work is still a viable small industry in the UK, each company maintains a sustainable coppiced woodland to harvest weavers or withies. If you do not have access to woodland, you can order willow cuttings (withies) online
Wattle Fences Around The World
A charming loose weave wattle fence in Vermont.
By Katrinka, www.flickr.com
Six foot high cleft (split) hazel fence with gate and archway leading through an existing hornbeam hedge. The gate is pine with hazel infill. The cut side of the hazel wood is facing the viewer. burwashwonderwood.com
Wattle fence and gate integrated into a stone wall, Stara Planina, Bulgaria. nashdom-bg.com
Wattle arch of hazel. Hazel is the most common wood used for wattling in Europe. naturalfencing.com
Wattle fence and gate at an 18th century house in New Hampshire. Constructed using an old hand tree saw, bill hook and knives only–just as they would have been done hundreds of years ago. Many more photos: anhistoricallady.blogspot.com
A continuous weave wattle fence with an oak framed gate that contains a hazel weave infill. The hazel rods have been split with the grain as opposed to sawn, thus retaining its inherent strength and therefore creating a denser fence. Video below on how to cleft a sapling. By Tim Radford. burwashwonderwood.com
Rustic wattle fence by Dan Holmes, UK.
Stevens the Hurdle Maker. Located in rural Hampshire, UK. The cleft, or split side of the wood is facing us, bark side faces interior of yard. wattlehurdles.com
According to Mick, “a well made hurdle should have uprights 9 inches apart. The top 6 – 8 inches should be made from whole rods of a small diameter, and the remainder, from split rods. It is very important that at least 3 rods per foot go round the end post and back into the hurdle. There should be no nails!” micksticks.co.uk
Wattle fence with windows by Mick, UK. A fence built on site will last much longer than a premade hurdle. Unless the hurdles are movable and brought inside for the winter months. micksticks.co.uk
Wattle fence around a camp. Perfect!
Photo by Lynn Spitz. flickr.com
Wattle fence at Walnot’s Farm, Sussex Weald, UK.
Wattle fence of hazel wood on Walnut’s Farm, East Sussex, UK. walnutsfarm.co.uk
Wattle hurdles on top of brick wall. Stevens The Hurdle Maker offers Wattle Hurdles, Continuous Weave, Stakes and Binders, River Faggots, Rose Arches, Pea Sticks, Spar Gads, Sweet Chestnut Posts and Rails and welcomes any special enquiry you may have. Hampshire, UK. wattlehurdles.com
Hazel framed hazel hurdles by Natural Fencing, UK.
6ft x 6ft, £68.00. naturalfencing.com
Wattle fence at an 18th century house in New Hampshire. Constructed of saplings from property. Wattle fencing was very popular in the early days of colonial America. Many more photos: anhistoricallady.blogspot.com
Wattle fence at an 18th century house in New Hampshire. Constructed using an old hand tree saw, bill hook and knives only. Many more photos: anhistoricallady.blogspot.com
Wattle fence hurdles connected by 4×6 posts.
No source: media-cache-ak1.pinimg.com
Continuous weave wattle fence (bark side facing us) by Green Man Woodcraft. greenmanwoodcrafts.co.uk
A short continuous weave wattle fence containing medieval style windows. By Tim Radford. burwashwonderwood.com
Wattle hurdles in Brooklyn, N.Y. support blackberries and rambling roses.
Image via Vogue magazine.
Wattle fence hurdles made of hazel wood.
Cleft wattle screen with roof (protecting bee skeps) at the Weald and Downland Museum. wealddown.co.uk
A wattle fence at Sanok-Skansen outdoor museum in Poland. wikipedia.org
Colony of Avalon, Ferryland, Newfoundland.
Looks sturdy enough for goats and cows.
Vicky Taylorhood. flickr.com
Wattle Fence made from saplings and branches collected from the wooded area of owner’s yard. Woven like a basket between 4 foot re-barb driven 1 foot into the ground. By Cliff Gilliam. www.yardshare.com
Continuous weave wattle fence, herringbone design with wood shake top.
Maramures, Romania. Image by Myra Lea. flickr.com
An open trellis in the panel gives privacy with a feeling of openness.
By Simon Fowler. peaktraditionalfencing.co.uk
Upright wattle fence in Lithuania.
Copyright: Gdaiva. flickr.com
Attach wattle to a pre-existing rail fence. ‘Another idea’ – weave saplings into a chain link fence painted brown. Jason DoubleGrande. flickr.com
Wattle fence has ancient origins in Africa as well. A reconstruction of the traditional King’s palace at Nyanza, Rwanda. en.m.wikipedia.org
Wattle Fence in the 1400’s.
Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.
Wattle Fence Resources
- Dan Holmes, UK: www.sussexgates.co.uk
- Dorset Rural Skills: www.dorsetruralskills.co.uk
- Peak National Park: www.peaktraditionalfencing.co.uk
The more protected, the longer lasting. Lasts much longer if covered in vegetation. Annual application of linseed/turpentine: bramptonwillows.co.uk
- Calif, US: Large orders only: thewillowfarm.com
- UK: www.primrose.co.uk
- UK: naturalfencing.com
- UK: darrencuffhurdlemaker.co.uk.fvnx.net
- UK: yorkshirehurdles.com
- UK. peaktraditionalfencing.co.uk
- UK: parsonshurdles.co.uk
- Made in China: mastergardenproducts.com
- many more…