Coppicing can be an extremely useful way to manage trees on a permaculture property and yet many fail to consider the potential to make use of trees in this way. But coppicing trees can be a good strategy on a commercial scale and on larger farms, or in small home gardens.
In small gardens, considering the potential of coppicing can help you realise your goals of a closed-loop, self-sufficient garden. It can allow you to fit more trees in a smaller space. And it can allow you to make use of the coppiced materials in a huge range of different ways.
Alder, willow and hazel are three interesting options. All of these species can be useful when coppiced in a range of different ways. But those two options are just the beginning, and there are plenty of trees that will respond well to coppicing every few years.
Hazels are, in many ways, my favourite coppice trees. Both the European hazel, Corylus avellana, and the American hazel for those in the US, can be very useful trees to use in landscape design where there is not overly acidic soil or maritime exposure. They can fit in well as under-storey trees in a forest garden or as part of a mixed hedgerow design.
The nuts are often stolen by wildlife before humans get a look in. But even without a yield of nuts, the coppiced wood can be useful in a range of different ways.
Hazel wood can be used, for example to make stakes, wattle and hurdles which could come in handy in many gardens. The wood also makes an excellent charcoal for artists to use. And there are a myriad of other crafty options to consider.
We have hazel trees round the periphery of our land, but none on our actual property. When we get a bit further on with our barn conversion project, we plan to demolish a large old shed which is falling down, and in the space, I plan to add some hazel and other trees for coppicing. We only have 1/3 of an acre here, but coppicing is one more strategy I intend to employ to make the most of our space…