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Coppicing/pollarding trees to reduce water consumption?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 11
Location: Victoria, Australia
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Hubby and I are looking at buying a 10 acre farmlet in an area with about 500mm (19-20 inches) annual rainfall. There is some scope to irrigate any trees we plant, but we would prefer to minimise this with wise plant choices and gardening practices. I am thinking that pollarding or coppicing many of the trees we plant could be a good way to both improve the soil (ie root pruning) and reduce the water needs of the trees as they are kept much smaller than they would otherwise be. Would love to hear the thoughts of you experienced Permies on this.
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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I have planted a bunch of trees that I will be pollarding but for livestock fodder, fuel, and mulch.

I suppose pollarding might reduce water consumption, but trees also produce water for an area through several means such as condensation. Trees will help dry out wet areas but I don't think they dry out soil that has a proper amount of moisture.

There are lots of good reasons to coppice but I haven't read that reducing water needs is one. I do know that coppicing favors leaf growth over woody growth & leaf growth might need more water, not sure.

Also, it seems that you're more likely to need to irrigate the trees when planting out. By the time you're ready to coppice, their roots might be so deep that you wouldn't have to irrigate anyway. Put in some swales to eliminate the need for irrigation and plant on the swale mount.
 
gardener
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We pollard willows regularly here, and when I saw this question I was thinking that I'm not sure they use less water when you pollard them. And then this exressed what I didn't know how to say.

Cj Verde wrote:
There are lots of good reasons to coppice but I haven't read that reducing water needs is one. I do know that coppicing favors leaf growth over woody growth & leaf growth might need more water, not sure.



After pollarding you have to give plenty of water to get a nice lush spurt of green leafy tender growth. I don't know what would happen if you didn't, but I think the tree wouldn't be vigorous.
 
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I would assume that pollarding/coppicing would tend to increase water demands, not decrease it. Once you cut off the main stem, you are encouraging a ring of sprouts to develop, thereby increasing the overall leaf area.
 
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