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what will grow under a pollarded willow coppice?

 
Woody Glenn
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Location: Delmarva Peninsula, MD Zone 7
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I have about 1600 sq ft of space that I am considering developing to a pollarded willow coppice. I am wondering what will grow in the willows shade? I am in zone 7 with wet dirt on clay.
 
Cj Sloane
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That's a good question. I'm planting an area of mixed tree species (willow included) to be pollarded and fed to livestock. In all the pictures I've seen of "browse blocks" I've only seen pasture growing underneath though I suppose any shade tolerant species would work. Parsley & currants are the only thing that come to mind off the top of my head.
 
Michael Cox
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I would think it very much depends on how densely you plant and how regularly you pollard. We have a dense stand of willow which I occasionally coppice. Very little grows beneath it, even grass.

When trees are included in pasture systems they are usually spaced so as not to restrict light to the ground too heavily.
 
Michael Cox
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Also, can you elaborate on why you have chosen willow? There may be other species that will serve you just as well and offer other yields as well. If you are pollarding for firewood for example I would look at Ash (denser wood, still fairly fast growing, can be used as fodder), or a nitrogen fixer like Locust (very dense hard wood, excellent for heating, leguminous so n-fixing, gets it's leaves fairly late so gives your pasture beneath a good start).
 
Peter Ellis
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I am just a little confused by the phrase "pollarded willow coppice" because I understand pollard and coppice to be two different things.
I am working under the assumption that we are talking about a group of willows allowed to grow to some significant height before the trunks being cut at roughly 6 feet, or a bit more, producing a lollipop effect.

I am going to wager that the "wet dirt above clay" is a main reason for choosing willow, a tree that will happily deal with wet conditions.

It very much depends on how densely you plant your willows, of course. Seems to me that you are looking for plants that can tolerate wet feet and significant amounts of shade.

I have not committed to memory any of the plant selection data from the books I've been devouring, but I would look to gaia's garden and Toensmeier's Perennial Vegetables as first stops for guidance. Martin Crawford's forest garden book is also an excellent and well organized resource, but, reasonably, focused on Britain.
 
Woody Glenn
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Location: Delmarva Peninsula, MD Zone 7
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I will be pollarding a number of established young Sweetgums, Maples and Black locusts spread out in the same hedge. I have 2 open patches that I wanted to be a more formal "pollarded coppice". I was going to do a mix of willows to prevent an absolute mono-culture. I would be interested in hearing about other species to mix in that will provide comparatively fast growing fire wood in a wet area. Right now some sort of rose bramble is the primary "shrub" inter-mixed with grapevines, honey suckle and raspberry's trying but not quite making it on the sunny edges.


1cop·pice noun \ˈkä-pəs\
: a group of small trees growing very close together

Full Definition of COPPICE

1
: a thicket, grove, or growth of small trees
2
: forest originating mainly from shoots or root suckers rather than seed
See coppice defined for English-language learners »
See coppice defined for kids »
Examples of COPPICE

<the deer bounded off into the coppice>
Origin of COPPICE

Middle English copies cutover area overgrown with brush, from Middle French copeis, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *colpaticium, from *colpare to cut, from Late Latin colpus blow — more at cope
First Known Use: 1534

pol·lard noun \ˈpä-lərd\

Definition of POLLARD

: a tree cut back to the trunk to promote the growth of a dense head of foliage
Origin of POLLARD

2poll
First Known Use: 1611
Rhymes with POLLARD

bollard, collard, Lollard
2pollard transitive verb
Definition of POLLARD

: to make a pollard of (a tree)
First Known Use of POLLARD

1670

 
Cj Sloane
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So, what are you using them for?
 
Woody Glenn
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Location: Delmarva Peninsula, MD Zone 7
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Quick privacy, deer rerouting, windbreak, fire wood, living structures and other shenanigans. Mostly fire wood though
 
Michael Cox
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Semantics Bit:

I'm not sure dictionary definitions quite match common usage in this case.

The process of coppicing is cutting down all stems to ground level to form a stool with multiple stems growing from the root system. This does form a very dense woodland, but the name "coppice" comes from the process, not the fact that it is a small grove of trees (factually correct, but doesn't catch the full meaning).

Pollarding is cutting higher up the trunk to leave a sturdy bare stem and multiple branches growing from that stem at around head height or more.

The two different processes result in quite different forms of tree, hence cannot really be applied together.


Regarding your intended uses, I'm not sure willow is the best tree for what you need. Willow is fast growing, but it is fast growing at the expense of density. A dried willow log will be maybe 1/3 the weight of an equivalent log from say an ash or an oak tree. If you are cutting firewood by hand you will need to cut at least twice as much wood to collect the same amount of fuel. This all needs cutting, splitting, stacking and seasoning for 2 years to dry. Personally we pass on willow when it is offered to us - pretty much everything else makes better fuel wood.

The reason there is a lot of talk about using willow for fuel is that it is fast growing and on a large scale can be harvested and chipped by conventional machinery to be sold and used as fuel in large scale furnaces (electricity generation etc...). Different priorities come in to play when processing smaller scales.

Understory - I manage a section of a chestnut coppice woodland. The canopy of a true coppice wood is very very dense (this ensures nice straight poles suitable for fencing etc...) and very little grows on the forest floor. We get some brambles but they are so starved of light they never fruit. if you really want to establish a productive understory you need much wider spacing than a conventional managed coppice. Aiming for 30% canopy cover would be reasonable and you could still probably grow some hazels for a nut crop and hazel poles (used for hurdle making, walking sticks etc...), perhaps some berry bushes and mid-sized fruit trees.

Overstory - In our woods we have an over story of english oak which we are thinning to reach a target of 30% canopy closure, then sweet chestnut coppice beneath that. The chestnut gets cut around every 15 years in an ideal world (when we bought ours it had been long neglected). We get a nut crop from a few standard chestnut trees. Chestnut poles are great for fence posts and pole building. They are a lot denser than willow and are very high in tannins so can last a long time untreated. They make pretty good fuel (not as good as oak, but definitely worth harvesting).

I really wood encourage you to consider something other than willow - I have both and would replace the willow with something else if the task were possible.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Well said Michael!

I think the big question might be what are you going to burn it in? If you're using a rocket mass heater you could stick with willow. If using a regular woodstove, I'd add species with higher btus. They'll take longer to grow but when mature you'll have a better mix to choose from.


 
Woody Glenn
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Location: Delmarva Peninsula, MD Zone 7
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While I'm all for a little verbing, now and again, I feel we lose quite a bit when we kill the noun in the process.

According to "my" tax dollars at work, The two patches I intend to grow out and pollard, each have a different soil type.
The "OTHELLO' soil is wetter and perhaps more acid. This patch will receive more direct light particularly in the morning. I do have more standing dead hard wood here. The most of the large locusts are vine covered topped poles, which could just be a matter of the vines winning, or being a pioneer tree they reached their "climax" for the soil. The other smaller 6-8" standing dead are a mixed bag of locust, oak, maple and sweetgum. They may have been weakened by a change of drainage increasing the standing water, some have drunken machete marks, and I fear a little round-up may have been spread around. This neighbor is a self avowed tree hater, because trees have leaves that get on his lawn, and harbor squirrels. Both of these patches are the results of neighbors cleaning up "their" view across "their" road.
The "MATTAPEX" patch is on the northern east corner and will get less sun, at least until I clear the southern side of this hedge of brambles and whatever they ate . The soil here is noticeably better and has more of a variety of trees including some I have not identified yet. The neighbor is a tidy gardener so I will get points for a "tidy" planting perhaps with wild flowers along the edge.
https://soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov/OSD_Docs/O/OTHELLO.html

https://soilseries.sc.egov.usda.gov/OSD_Docs/M/MATTAPEX.html

I only briefly surveyed the numbers describing fire wood production. I am trying to provide enough wood to heat my home with approximately 1600 sqft of designated land. I was figuring 3" max for the harvested wood, and not splitting. The way things are going the I will be harvesting existing wood for a number of years before I can install a wood stove any way. I want to be able to harvest wood with out felling trees. I also grew up splitting locust for the family "in the snow uphill both ways". I'd like to keep my splitting down to "for recreational uses only ". I will look for different analysis's of wood production. Thanks, Woody
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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Woody Glenn wrote:While I'm all for a little verbing, now and again, I feel we lose quite a bit when we kill the noun in the process.

I think the confusion is that coppice can be a noun and a verb.

Woody Glenn wrote:The other smaller 6-8" standing dead are a mixed bag of locust, oak, maple and sweetgum.

I forgot you were going to have other species. Maple has a very dense canopy but if you're pollarding them I guess that wont matter.

Woody Glenn wrote:The way things are going the I will be harvesting existing wood for a number of years before I can install a wood stove any way. I want to be able to harvest wood with out felling trees.


I see. Coppicing/pollarding is definitely the way to go. If you go with a rocket mass heater you'll be able to use smaller pieces and have a shorter rotation cycle.
 
Woody Glenn
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Location: Delmarva Peninsula, MD Zone 7
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Cj Verde, could you describe your coppice tree mix? did you have plant them in a schedule to keep the slower growing stuff from getting over run by the faster growing trees? I will be sneaking a rocket stove in at some point. I cant remember if the technology works for heating a bread oven. Thanks, Woody
 
Cj Sloane
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Poplar (a screen hybrid), Willow (several kinds), black locust (I think from seed), and Russian Mulberry.

I'm making some mini swales by hand with a pick axe. Finding level runs longer than 10 feet has been challenging so they may be short swales.

If anything grows too tall they'll get pollarded which is fine because that was the whole point!
 
Just put the cards in their christmas stocking and PRESTO! They get it now! It's like you're the harry potter of permaculture. richsoil.com/cards
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