Traditional landscaping wood use book?
February 2, 2022 5:03 AM   Subscribe

Really clunky title there but: I'm looking for a book that details traditional processes for hedgelaying, coppicing, hurdles, etc.

Some of those techniques aren't really used in the US as far as I know (like hedgelaying?*) On the other hand, some of the shrubs and trees used for those practices in England aren't on my property--but I have others that might be compatible.

I'm interested in engineering and permaculture techniques to ease erosion, increase water efficiences, discourage rabbits from eating my juniper, have sustainable sources for fencing etc.

Could I lay a hedge with currants? Silky dogwood? Elderberry? Serviceberry? Could I use thick branches from our hickory trees as posts? What other combinations might work? Swales? Berms? Into those too.

I garden organically and prioritize natives in a rural area in New England.

*(I just found out hedgelaying was a thing six months ago.)
posted by A Terrible Llama to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The hedgelaying that I've done (and seen elsewhere in my bit of rural England) involves using thicker stems (thumb thickness) that are cut part-way through to allow them to be bent and woven around the stakes. This allows the bent-over part to continue sprouting new growth to fill out the hedge. I'm not sure that something with thin stems like a currant would work as well, although you could certainly work them into the hedge.

I would think that pretty much any wood would do for the posts/stakes. It just needs to be something that will stay intact for a year or two until the hedge becomes more self-supporting.
posted by pipeski at 5:20 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Woodland Management: A Practical Guide by Chris Starr was written for the layperson wishing to buy and look after a bit of British woodland. I know that's not exactly what you're looking to do, but there might be enough overlap to be useful, and the fact that it's aimed at a general audience means it won't assume knowledge you don't have. That Amazon listing has Look Inside for both Kindle and hardback editions; the hardback preview offers a bit more context than the Kindle one.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 5:43 AM on February 2, 2022 [3 favorites]

Mainer here who also thinks hedgelaying is wicked cool (though I haven't gotten around to doing it). I recently joined a public Facebook Group called Coppicing, Pollarding, and Hedgelaying in North America. I think I've seen book recs on there.

The only book I've read is more of a cultural history. But pretty interesting: "A Natural History of the Hedgerow" by John Wright. I also recall some very evocative passages about hedgerows (and pollards and coppices) in "Wildwood: A Journey Through the Trees" by Roger Deakin. That's what piqued my interest in the first place.

Another way to connect might be too tap into your local permaculture community or agricultural cooperative extension. Good luck!
posted by Text TK at 5:46 AM on February 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Elderberry isn't very strong but it is plenty pliable and resprouts readily, I would expect hedgelaying that with serviceberry to work well.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:16 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don’t know if there are more details that separate them, but another helpful search term may be “live fencing” which may give you more hits for plants native to your region/the US.
posted by raccoon409 at 6:54 AM on February 2, 2022

Swales? Berms? Into those too.

In addition to the suggestions above, you might find "bioengineering" to be a useful search term. In the US, there are plenty of free guides and publications from agencies and extension services, like these from the NRCS.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:57 AM on February 2, 2022

The book Sprout Lands: Tending the Endless Gift of Trees does a lot of this. I learned about pollarding and coppicing and all sorts of things I didn't realize were fascinating. It's one of my favorite reads of the last few years. The author William Bryant Logan is an arborist.
posted by spamandkimchi at 9:44 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

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