Coppicing has been practiced in British woodlands for centuries.
The purpose was to produce wood in a sustainable way for a variety of uses.
Historically the large timber was produced for ships, houses, and furniture, and the smaller timber was used for items such as making baskets,fencing, hurdles, tool handles, and the debris was used for firewood and making charcoal.
The word coppice is derived from the French couper which means to cut.
Coppiced trees and their produce are known as underwood.
The cut tree stump is known as a stool, and the shoots, depending on their harvested size, as rods, poles or logs.
The shoots are harvested on a rotational cycle.
The technique is to cut shrubs and trees to ground level on a rotational basis and let them re-generate.
The rotation is subject to the type/s of trees being coppiced, and could be anything from 5-25 years between cuttings.
This rotational cutting sequence leaves the woodland in various different stages of regeneration.
Coppicing specimens down to a stump about 600mm (24”) tall in early spring can have a dramatic effect on its final appearance.
The practice restricts the size of trees, and all the tree's energy goes into a burst of rapid young growth in early summer, plus the leaves tend to grow larger than usual.
A cut stump, will produce many new shoots, rather than a single main stem.
This is particularly useful if you grow trees/shrubs for their leaf and stem colour, e.g. dogwoods / cornus, and willows, for their coloured stems, and eucalyptus for its bluish foliage.
Shortening stems to within 10 -20mm (½” -¾”) of the stump each year circa Week 18 will ensure a continuous supply of young growth.
If growing Hazels, to produce straight canes for supports or living barriers in the garden, coppicing every few years around Week 10 will ensure a plentiful supply.