Coppicing a tree or shrub involves periodically cutting it back to the ground level to stimulate growth. Designers, savvy gardeners, and homeowners use this method to achieve a desired effect, prolong life, or to fix a problem in the landscape.
Sounds like a pretty progressive concept, but the roots of this age old method sprouted with the harvesting of timber and can be traced back 3806 BC.
Long ago our ancestors realized that, for optimum wood production, certain trees can be perpetually cut to the ground and grow back. Most deciduous trees can be coppiced, but beech, cherry and poplar produce weaker growth.
Very few evergreens can be coppiced. One that thrives with this practice of pruning is Eucalyptus!!!
A lignotuber at the base of the tree protects eucalyptus stands from deforestation during fires and freezes.
That single "protector" cell also provides gardeners a host of pruning possibilities when growing this diverse and tough tree. Below are the basics to making coppicing work for you.
Controlling Eucalyptus Trees height: Make a cut, slightly angled, from 12 to 18” from the ground. Select the most vigorous shoot for the leader and remove all other shoots. Coppice your Euc in late winter - spring in humid areas to avoid fungal infections, summer in cooler regions.
Young trees will respond quicker, but there is no size limit on when you can coppice a Eucalyptus. Below is the result of a coppiced 15 yr. old, 40' tall Eucalyptus nicholii 'Angus' https://southerneucs.com/products/eucalyptus-nicholii-angus-eucalyptus-tree at the McDonough, GA trials garden.
Growing Eucalyptus Trees as a screen: To encourage lateral branching for screening purposes cut tree trunks about 6 – 10’ from the ground, leaving the side branches to fill in for privacy. Above mentioned seasonal and regional rules apply.
Growing Eucalyptus Trees as a hedge: Prune Eucs at the end of their second growing season, removing about a third of their height and cutting in pyramid shape. Continuing to remove about ¼ of the tree each year will maintain the neighborhood’s most fragrant, colorful, and unique hedge row.
Sourthern Eucs that make great hedge rows are:
'Funky Monkey' https://southerneucs.com/products/eucalyptus-parvula-funky-monkey-eucalyptus-tree
Growing a Eucalyptus Trees as a specimen: This one is easy. Don’t prune any lower branches for the first 6’ until the third season. In fact, don't worry about it at all. Most Eucs will shed their lower braches on their own.
A coppiced tree’s foliage also remain at a juvenile stage. A bonus for Eucs because that is when the foliage grows most vigorously, is fragrant, and ornate.
Tree huggers did you know that a regularly coppiced tree will never die of old age!
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