Why Is Black Willow So Widely Used For River And Stream Restoration?

Restoring the natural beauty and function of a river can increase the wildlife population, create new fishing opportunities, and prevent flooding and erosion from causing damage to the surrounding area. It's best to use native plants based on the exact location of the stream or river, but black willow is a widely native tree that is recommended for restoration across the country. Find out why so many different groups and organizations recommend the use of black willow for live bank side planting.

Preventing Erosion

Black willow, like many other widely spread willow species, grow short and stubby in a shrub formation rather than tall and stately like other trees. The shrub style of growth, complete with multiple stems, is essential for preventing erosion that dumps soil into the waterway and weakens the bank. Even if you plan to add other types of trees, you should have at least one shrub mixed into the bank planting plan for the lowest level of soil right above the water.

Covering the Water

Creating shade on exposed water does more than just prevent evaporation. Shaded waters stay cooler during the hottest parts of the year, which is essential to many high-value fish species like trout and most types of amphibians. Warm water is also more likely to harbor algae growth that depletes the oxygen supply of the water. Keeping the water cool and covered is easy with the use of dense, shrubby plants like black willow because they fill in any gaps quickly with rapid growth.

Flooding Resistance

Other types of trees may thrive higher up on a river bank, but it's hard to find plants that can handle the flooding that commonly occurs at the very edge of a bank. It only takes a light rainstorm to raise the water level enough to flood this area. Black willow is particularly good at handling the challenges of flooding. It can handle being submerged, even completely, for quite a few days before any permanent damage to the leaves, branches, or trunks.

Staking Capability

Finally, black willow is tough enough to handle all of the live staking methods used for quickly stabilizing eroding banks. It's easy to place thin cuttings, but large stakes can also be pounded hard into the mud of the bank for increased stabilization without any chances of the stakes failing to sprout due to rough handling. Live staking may also include building woven wattles, and even the smallest cuttings used in the wattle will root and sprout if you choose black willow.

For more information, contact a company like Sweetwater Fisheries Group.

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