Coppice vs Pollard

Coppice vs Pollard

They made a mistake and left me alone in the Virtual Help Desk at Virtual Gary Con on Thursday, March 27th .. <O.O>

It is kind of quiet .. too quiet 🙁 So, if anyone was wondering, yes, you can coppice or pollard oak & maple trees.

2:44 PM

Coppicing is when you cut an immature tree down just above the tree flare or root flare. Normally the roots balance the top growth, so this will cause a LOT of new shoots growing from the root ball and turn the tree into more of a bush. Selective pruning allows you to grow the length and thickness desired, be it for wattle, poles, or firewood. Yep, people used to grow wood to the desired dimensions rather than just cut it to those dimensions.
Pollard refers to a similar practice, but much higher off the ground. Most of the trees you see in say France, etc, where the trunk is straight and the look like a gnarled knot 8-12+ feet off the ground are examples of trees that have been pollarded.
The advantages of a pollard over a coppice is that cattle can not easily graze the tender shoots, and you can often grow crops or even grass beneath the tress, yet still gain the advantages of coppiced trees. Another advantage is growing trees in cattle pastures and being able to lop off branches as "tree fodder" and not have to carry them anywhere.

2:51 PM

Here is an example of the type of staves or poles one can get off of a maple pollard (picture)

2:53 PM

That was ONE shoot that grew after I topped the maple tree in my back yard. The shorter 5ft or so section should make a decent light trekking pole, whereas the other section (that is taller than the garage door) I need to peal and either carve or burn to make a staff

2:54 PM

I am growing another one one more year and hope to get a 16.5ft "perch pole" or even a 16ft-20ft "barge pole" out of it
3:06 PM
I got bored so I started sharing pictures 

3:08 PM

A quick picture of the maple tree I am slowly pruning back into a proper pollarded tree .. a bit of pruning to go to make a proper pollard of it (should be one general "ball", not three up top, IIRC)
3:09 PM
Size reference for the thick staff .. size 8.5 EEEE shoe for comparison. I think that makes it proper diameter for a barge pole. Note that a Barge pole could be anywhere from 10ft to 20ft long, depending on the depths along the local waterway. Generally though the water-level to the bed of the river or canal plus maybe 6ft above that +/-

3:09 PM

And of the Fiskar extendable pruner w. saw I use against the tree ..
4:01 PM
Coppice & Pollard, continued. Some of the advantages of doing these is that the tree may never fully mature and thus may well live much longer, and the tree may produce more cubic feet of wood per year as well as more of the correct thickness and length for particular uses. Another is the ability to get more light to smaller trees such as fruit trees. Of interest to some (and especially useful when I was a kid) is that fruit trees (like apple trees) are often topped "low to the ground", aka often 2-4 feet off the ground, just above the first set of side branches. This had a tendency to keep the trees shorter and make them easier to climb (thus why important to me as a kid). The prevailing wisdom is to keep the center clear so "air" can get in, as well as trim branches heading straight upwards unless one of the main secondary trunks. Topping fruit trees tends to keep the fruit within easy picking height from the ground and while using shorter ladders.

-D.M. Zwerg

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