Thirty one metres of stock proof fence, 126 sticks, two rows, 500mm centres one bad back and the new willow shelter belt is complete. This planting area is on the boundary of the new sheep area so we needed to protect the new willow cuttings from being eaten and trampled with another fence. The ground was prepared by removing the rushes and large stones (where practical). We had a debate as to whether we should use a mulch with a membrane to suppress weeds until the willow is established. The plastic type membrane was dismissed (because it's plastic). More natural options such as straw dismissed because they were too messy or encourage other problems. I'm going to hand weed initially until the willow is established, an option my bad back will probably not be happy with.
A string line was useful to keep things orderly. The 12 inch (30cm) willow cuttings came ready prepared from Alligin Willows. A thin metal stake and hammer were used to make the holes 9 inches (23cm) deep and 50 cm apart in two staggered rows. They were heeled in firmly. There was no need to water in as the ground was already wet, followed by a night and a day of rain. The willow could make 6-8 feet in the first season so we wait to see the first signs of growth.