October 21, 2020
Definition: A method of cutting a shrub or tree to stimulate growth. Coppicing can be used to encourage regrowth in certain tree species. By cutting the tree down at the stump during their dormant season, farmers encourage multiple stems to grow out of the main trunk.
A Closer Look: There are many different reasons farmers will coppice trees in their Forest Garden. Farmers will often coppice tree species planted in the green wall in order to promote lateral growth as multiple shoots will regrow from the trunk and ultimately create a more dense and impenetrable barrier. Beyond coppicing green walls for enhanced protection, farmers also coppice their alley rows and can use the thicker branches as fuelwood and timber poles while using the leaves and stems as green fertilizer.
Pollarding vs. Coppicing: The terms pollarding and coppicing are two common pruning techniques used to promote growth but there is one main distinction. When coppicing a tree, a farmer will cut the tree near the ground; around 6 inches above ground level. When pollarding a tree, a farmer will only prune the top of the tree once it has grown several feet tall. Additionally, when pollarding, a farmer may choose to cut an entire branch or just a portion of it. They may cut all of the branches or just a few. In our program, farmers are using coppicing (pictured above) much more frequently than pollarding