Coppicing is a pruning technique where a tree or shrub is cut to ground level, resulting in regeneration of new stems from the base. It is commonly used for rejuvenating and renovating old shrubs.
Timing Late winter or early spring
Coppicing is a pruning technique used for many reasons, including:
- Creates a multi-stemmed shrub rather than a large single-trunked tree
- Generates new stems on shrubs with good winter stem colour (such as dogwoods and some willows)
- Encourages larger leaves on trees such as Catalpa, Cercis and Paulownia
- Encourages juvenile small leaves on certain species of Eucalyptus
- Generates woody stems for firewood and/or charcoal making
- Rejuvenates and renovates old shrubs and hedging plants that tolerate hard pruning, such as yew, hornbeam and beech
These are a few of the plants suitable for coppicing:
- Toona sinensis ‘Flamingo’
When to coppice
Coppice trees and shrubs in late winter or early spring (February to March), just before they come into active growth.
Shrubby Cornus and willows grown for winter stem colour are now typically pruned from late March to mid April, just as the new growth is developing.
How to coppice
Coppicing is very easy, simply cut back all stems to within 5-7.5cm (2-2½in) from the ground, or to the previous year’s stubs.
Sometimes when a large tree is coppiced suddenly, it can take two seasons to come back into growth, so don’t worry if it seems to take a while to shoot. This should not be the case where trees or shrubs are coppiced regularly.
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.