Hey permies! I would like to start charging to harvest coppice and pollard wood and am curious if there is anyone out there charging for this?
Obviously there are a great many tree service compnaies but I'm talking about specifically harvesting coppice and pollard wood and finding a way to finance the activity.
It seems to me that people who pay for tree service are looking for specific things, such as tree removal, or eliminating a dangerous situation caused by a tree growing over a roof or leaning over a house or driveway. occasionally there are people that simply want their shrubs pruned or cut to a specific shape or for better production, but what I am having trouble thinking about is how does it benefit a home owner for me to show up and cut a tree/shrub down to the ground or to a specific height at the trunk every 3-8 years?
as a homesteader, i see the value of doing this to my OWN trees for the harvest, but alas i don't have trees/shrubs to harvest from as of yet. but what would a typical suburban homeowner gain from this action? if a plant is cut to the ground, many homeowners expect that plant to die and are not happy to see it vigorously regrow. If a tree is topped for pollard a homeowner may not be happy to have a tall stump with small shoots coming off it... not the typical look of suburbia
anyway, i could ramble, but are any of you charging for this service or coming up with some creative way to finance the harvesting work?
for reference, i really would like to get a steady supply of willow and honey/black locust for wattle fencing, if i can figure out how to finance regular supply of this material, i'm confident i can install such fencing for money
Interesting idea. I am not sure how one would convince suburban folks that they wanted coppiced or pollarded trees and shrubs. But another possible avenue did occur to me. Perhaps you could talk to local power and/or telecommunications providers about doing their line clearing work? They just cleared the right of way along the power line here, and most of it was about the right size, as I believe they do it about every three to five years. Obviously, there are some challenges with this idea, mostly the massive amount of material, large scale of the work and the fact it would not be only your preferred species. I suppose you could chip what you didn't want and have a massive amount of woodchips to use and/or sell? It's probably not the solution you're looking for due to the scale, but perhaps will give you some ideas of how to make your idea reality.
"Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, "You owe me." Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky."
In the town where I lived, there were many lime (linden) trees grown as street trees. The local council managed them as what you might call multi-stemmed pollards. They do look pretty ridiculous when first done, and there would regularly be complaints by people who didn't notice that the trees had obviously been managed like that for many years, because you could see the "knuckle" where they had been cut back to successively, and you only had to walk a few streets away to see how quickly the tree started to look like a tree again. I see a lot of "tree surgery" done round here by companies I wouldn't let within yards of any tree of mine, pandering to customers who wish to see a certain shape with no forethought as to how the tree will respond and look in a few years.
I think there could be mileage in producing some simple diagrams of how pollarding works and what the customer can expect. One advantage for coppicing shrubs could be the larger more attractive leaves on the young coppice stems. On some species like willow and dogwood, the bark is more brightly coloured too. Coppicing or pollarding lets in a LOT of light, which will benefit the understorey plants for a few years. If your customer has enough suitable trees/shrubs, it's maybe a matter of educating them into the idea of developing a rotation around their garden and enjoying that natural succession.
Maybe even showing the tree owner what you are going to do with the material, and starting a new market for garden fencing?
Thanks Hester! I like the diagram idea and the larger leaves and brighter stems are important selling points!
My thoughts for developing this market is because I would like to do some wattle/woven fencing installation jobs but around here you cant just buy willow staves at home depot, you have to harvest them yourself
As Hester said, I think you will have to focus a lot on customer education. Coppicing and pollarding seem to be nearly unknown in the US. I've never seen either here, other than on my own trees, and I don't know what I'm doing, I'm just topping trees to use the smaller parts for wood chips. Ramial wood chips seem to be best, so I'm making them by harvesting smaller branches from my trees after pollarding.
Devon Olsen wrote:Is there a good thread here on permies showing off coppice/pollarded specimens?
Something picture heavy?
Mine are on my old property, and I don't have pictures of them. Those were willows. I have a really good stand of small trees growing on my new land that will be used for the same purpose, but they won't be cut the first time until next spring.
I'm not sure of the timing that is supposed to be used. Pruning is normally done with the tree dormant, but since I want ramial wood chips, I will be pollarding the area in the spring after they leaf out.
Not sure if racial wood chips need to have actively flowing sap when chipped but if you harvest in june/July then you might could feed the leaves as tree hay and then chip the branches the following spring or over the winter
One advantage this would have is the branches would likely gather beneficial soil microbes during their time in the dry stacks and their interaction with the animal yard and manure when fed
That would be one of my main reasons to coppice or Pollard my own trees whenever I have some