Coppicing your own Hazel

You can grow hazel coppice in your own garden or smallholding to use for weaving hurdles, here is some basic information on how.

Small scale hazel coppice (pic: London Permaculture, creative commons)

Small scale hazel coppice (pic: London Permaculture, creative commons)

Planting hazel coppice

Hazel coppice is harvested on a 7-10 year cycle, so if you wish to harvest poles of the usual size every year you will need at least 7 trees. You could harvest more frequently for slimmer rods, for example if you wished to weave without splitting the rods. Plant trees around 2.5m apart. Coppiced trees too widely spaced, without enough canopy cover, can result in branching curved stems of varying size, rather than the desirable straight, uniform poles.

Layering Hazel trees

If you already have some Hazel trees and simply wish to increase the number you can layer them as follows:

  • cut off each stem at ground level, except two or three of the longest
  • cut these 3/4 of the way through so that the stalk can be bent to the ground, touching where you want to establish the new tree
  • peg the stems to the ground, they will put down roots and new stools (coppice stumps) will be established.

Restoring neglected coppice

If you have some neglected Hazel coppice that has not been cut for decades cut all stems as close to the ground as possible, you are likely to need a chain saw for this job. The idea is to encourage new shoots to grow at ground level and develop their own root systems, reduce the risk of instability and butt rot.

Billhook

Billhooks are often used to cut Hazel coppice (pic: London Permaculture, creative commons)

Harvesting coppice

Hazel coppice is usually harvested every 7-10 years. Cutting should be done during the dormant season; October to March. Often billhooks are used, but you can also use a bow saw or a pruning saw and loppers.

  • clear all leaves and other debris from around the base of the stool
  • cut away any dead or dying stems
  • cut the most accessible stems first gradually working in to the centre of the stool
  • make sure all the poles are felled in the same direction

Ideally cut 1-2 inches above where the stem grows out of the stool, with the cut angled slightly sloping away from the centre of the stool. If you need to to make cut higher you can trim the stem back afterwards.

You will need to ensure new growth from your hazel stumps is protected from animals such as deer for the first 2-3 years.

Freshly coppiced Hazel

A freshly harvested hazel stool (pic: London Permaculture, creative commons)

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