What is coppicing and why do we do it?

Coppicing banner.jpg
23 January 2019

The management of our parks takes place all year round, and the winter months are the perfect time for coppicing. We understand it may seem odd to many that we would be cutting back the many plants that are spread across Milton Keynes’ green space, but please rest assured; it’s a key part of our land management.

For those wanting to better understand this subject, we’ve put together a quick guide to coppicing – what it is, and why it’s so important.

  • Coppicing – what is it?

Coppicing is the traditional process of cutting back of certain woody plants to just above ground level (usually 100-200mm). Lots of plants are suitable for coppicing, including laurel, hazel, dogwood, rose and willow. For various reasons, it’s been part of land management for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

  • Why do we need to do it?

Apart from supporting plant health coppicing helps to open up the ground to other plants, including herbaceous grasses, wildflowers etc., which is important for a varied green space.
It is also important to ensure the city’s roads, footpaths and redways are safe for people to use. Coppicing helps maintains the site lines and lines of vision.

  • How does it affect the plant?

The winter period is when shrubs and other plants go into their dormant period.  It is at this time the plants store nutrients and sugars safely in the roots, which sustains them over the winter but is also offers an energy source for the coming growing season. It is during this dormant time that it is best to cut or coppice the plants generally at 100-200mm above ground level. When spring arrives, the plants will start to regrow, often quite rapidly.  Such coppicing activity helps rejuvenate and prolong the life of individual plants.

You may well see our landscaping team coppicing in our parks over the winter months – if you’ve got any questions, do ask them or get in touch with us through our website, Facebook or Twitter.