Greetings! Yesterday’s homesteading word of the day was coppice. Today’s HWOTD is related — pollard. They both mean cutting back or pruning trees or shrubs but the height at which the cuts are made are different. Generally speaking, coppicing occurs closer to the ground and pollarding occurs higher up. Obviously, there are reasons for each methods.
Midwest Permaculture’s website has a very helpful post on the similarities and differences between the two methods as well as the reason why you would want to do either. Here are a few helpful paragraph’s from the post.
“Coppicing and pollarding are two methods of wood pruning that allows us to continually harvest wood from the same trees while keeping them healthy for centuries. They produce a sustainable supply of timber for many generations while enhancing the natural state for wildlife and native plants.”
“The main difference between the two methods is that coppicing occurs at ground level while pollarding is done 8-10 feet high to prevent browsing animals from eating the fresh shoots; typically, coppicing was done to manage woodlands and pollarding was done in a pasture system.
Coppicing a tree produces multiple stems growing out of the main trunk — suitable for firewood, fencing, tool handles, and many more woodland crafts. A properly coppiced woodland, harvested in rotational sections called coups, has trees and understory in every stage and is a highly effective method to grow a fast supply of naturally renewing timber. By working on a rotation we are assured of a crop somewhere in the woodland every year.
Pollarding (from the word “poll,” which originally meant “top of head”) has been used since the Middle Ages — in fact, there are still stands of continuously pollarded trees that date to that time. Today, it is a technique that can be used in very urban environments to prevent trees from invading utilities or sewers . . . but its historical use of a wooded pasture system also fits into a permaculture method very well — stacking functions to get more yield out of one area.
What makes these methods so appealing is that by keeping the tree in a perpetual juvenile state, they actually extend the life of the tree by hundreds or sometimes even thousands of years. Diseases rarely have time to take hold of the young growth and weather elements do not affect trees of short stature so they live much longer than their unpruned counterparts. ”
I highly encourage you to visit the webpage, especially if you are a visual learner, because it has some illustrations and photos of the methods plus it goes into much more details about the benefits of these methods.
Lastly, in regard to the pronunciation of the word pollard, the stress is on the first syllable — PAH lurd.
Want to see all of the Homesteading Word of the Day posts? Scroll down and look for “Categories” on the right then click on “vocabulary.”