Cultivated since ancient times, a coppice is a stand of trees managed and grown to produce small wood used for fuel, basket-making, fence posts, barrel hoops and many other applications. Hazel is a popular tree to grow in a coppice, and its wood is used primarily as posts to support peas and beans in the garden, as well as for thatched roofs and handles for tools.
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Things you need
- Garden spade
- Hand watering can or hose
Choose a site in an out-of-the-way location on your property. It should be in full sun with soil of average fertility. Heavy soil produces stronger wood that is more dense than wood grown on sandy soils.
Dig individual holes approximately 18 inches wide and 18 to 24 inches deep, and at least 6 feet apart in rows 8 to 10 feet apart, in which to plant the hazel sapings. The holes should be large enough to accommodate the fanned-out roots of the hazel trees.
Place the roots of the hazel tree into the hole, fanning them out so they are evenly spaced within the hole. Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming the soil down with your foot as you go.
Create a small depression surrounding the hazel sapling. This depression will help collect rainwater at the base of the hazel tree, rather than it running off into the surrounding area. Make the depression about 1 to 2 inches below ground level near the base of each sapling, rising gradually toward ground level at its perimeter. The depression should be about the same diameter as the planting hole, or approximately 18 inches wide.
Water in each hazel tree as you plant it, using a hand watering can or a hose. Add approximately 2 gallons of water to each newly planted tree. Thereafter, provide the equivalent of 1 inch of rainfall per week during the first year after planting.
Mulch the soil surrounding each hazel sapling. Cover the area comprising the planting hole, but keep the mulch about 1 to 2 inches away from the trunk of the hazel sapling to guard against pests and diseases. Apply mulch to the areas between the rows of trees or plant a permanent ground cover.
Tips and warnings
- Hazel coppices are cut for the first time in their third or fourth year of growth. At that time, a large, dominant main shoot and several additional smaller but strong shoots are commonly harvested. Make the cuts about 1 to 2 inches above ground level. New shoots will regrow from the base, which can then be harvested when they reach the desired size.
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