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 current wintery months are the perfect time for coppicing. We know 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 new to 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. Lots of plants are suitable for coppicing, including laurel, hazel, dogwood, rose and willow. 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, wild flowers 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?

While the plants are in their dormant period (e.g. the plants’ nutrients and sugars are stored safely in the roots) the plants are cut/coppiced down to just above ground level. They then start to regrow when spring arrives. It might seem back to front, but this actually helps the plant and helps prolong the life of individual plants – rejuvenating shrubs which have become too tall/over extended, dense or have lost their colour. It also helps to eliminate pests and diseases, while helping to prolong the life of the plants.

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