Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tree Thoughts

I already have plans to plant Osage orange seedlings next spring to form a hedge around the perimeter of the property. I think I also might plant a few along the existing fence to form a privacy guard, to hide less sightly things like compost piles. These would be allowed to grow taller than the ones in the hedge, of course, since they won't need to keep livestock contained. While thinking along these lines, I started to wonder if Osage orange would take well to coppicing. Based on what I know of its growth habits, I think it would probably do well with that kind of management. Coppicing might help the tree form straighter wood than normal, which would be very useful as fence posts and other building materials.


Tracy said...

Mel - Osage Orange works very well for coppicing. Steven is using Osage Orange for hedging (live fence). He has ordered reading material on methods of doing hedging, from England, where it used to be used quite a bit as fencing. He is also beginning all his own seedlings.

Our farm is surrounded by a huge old Osage Orange windbreaks planted years ago by my forefathers. They have been stalwart. Some of the area we did coppice, and they regrew much thicker, etc. That variety of tree was a big mainstay on the Kansas plains, used heavily by the pioneers.

Here is a great link you might find useful:

Mel, Foxtail Farm said...

Oh, that is a great link. Have you followed those instructions? I had been planning on just planting seedlings along the fence line, but it says not to do that. We can spare a bit of garden space to properly start them.

It's good to hear solid experience that they coppice well. I thought they would, from what I had read about their growth habits, but hadn't found anything that addressed it directly. Did you find that the coppiced trees grew back with straighter wood than the natural ones?

We have a fair bit of Osage orange around here, too. Presumably most of them are remnants of neglected hedges. We got our seeds by driving around and picking up the fruit off of the road :).

Tracy said...

Yes, the coppiced trees did grow back much straighter than the originals (although I didn't consider the originals to be that un-straight). Of course, it grew many stalks, not just one.

We were stubborn and tried it our own way first (planting them where we want the hedge to be) but it didn't work well - choked out by other stuff before they could get much of a start. This year we are going to do as those instructions say and start them in a garden plot.