I am really interested in becoming proficient at the ancient woodland practice of coppicing â€” the yearly pruning of particular species down to the ground in winter to yield vigorous, straight-stemmed growth in the spring.
My research has revealed that coppicing never took hold here when the first colonists settled â€” the abundance of forests provided more than enough raw building material, so the practice simply was never implemented here. And that's why landscape/garden centers/nurseries as a general rule aren't entirely familiar with the practice.
The objective is to build my own wattle fence to protect a simple, small vegetable garden from rabbits using either willow, ash, blackthorn, or hazel. Being in Chicagoland, I want to use whatever native species is the closest to any of these shrubs.
The beauty is that there isn't any rush. It can take 5-6 years to grow and harvest enough stout yet flexible wood for my purposes, but it's the yearly cycle of pruning them in the winter, watching the results in the spring, choosing which ones to prune again the following winter (and which ones to let go so their straight rods grow taller and stouter), so that I have a constant yearly supply of varying thickness to suit any need (replacing rotten fencing, making trellises/arbors/pole bean supports, etc).
Interested to hear if anyone has tried or is currently practicing this technique!