I keep struggling with what we intend to plant for our woodlot. My initial search led me to a post which talked about using hybrid poplars because they grow incredibly fast, and are easy to harvest, split, and can regenerate through coppicing. However, there are MANY different species of trees that are also coppicable, fast growing, with varying degrees of ease of harvest, use, etc. I keep getting tangled in all the options and advice out there on the net, so here is my breakdown of what has caught my eye and is hardy in Zone 5. Hopefully this will help to keep me organized and possibly help someone else working on the same problem. This is not by any means a complete or even extensive list I am sure.
Coppice – to cut back (a tree or shrub) to ground level periodically to stimulate growth.
Things that need consideration when planning a woodlot.
- Main purpose of your woodlot – Ours is firewood
- BTUs – wood puts out the same BTUs per pound of wood cut, but different wood has different density and therefore weighs more by volume.
- Wood is measured in volume by cord (4 x 4 x 8 foot), so most websites give heat production based on one cord of wood.
- Alternative purposes/Future use
- Building Materials
- Food production
- Animal fodder
- How long can you wait for your lot to grow?
- Hybrid poplars can grow up to 8 feet per year and tolerate less than prime conditions
- Oak grows at a maximum of 2 ft per year under prime conditions.
- How many cords of wood will you need to heat your house, cook, etc.
- Here is an interesting guide to calculate the cordage available in your woodlot.
Thoughts on possible woodlot trees for our property, remembering that we are in Zone 5b. In possible order of preference (still researching)
(click on links to see info on each type of tree)
Poplar – Hybrid poplars are fast growing and extremely hardy.
Willow (coming soon) – Fast growing and hardy, willow bark also has medicinal value, and wips are good for weaving, etc.
Black Locust – This tree grows very rapidly, survives droughts and severe winters, tolerates infertile and acidic soils.
Red alder – Fast growing during the first 5 years, not very hardy, but great for smoking meats.
Once upon a time there was a piece of wood. It was not an expensive piece of wood. Far from it. Just a common block of firewood, one of those thick, solid logs that are put on the fire in winter to make cold rooms cozy and warm.
Slow Growing – options to plant for future use.
Osage Orange – Strong and rot resistant. Great for structural supports.
Oregon ash (coming soon) – Wet or dry, ash wood will produce a decent fire, but with a lot of ash. Most ash cuts and splits relatively easily as long as it is still green.
Chestnut (coming soon) – This is planned for our orchard anyway. While being a possible source of food for our homestead, we can also harvest the deadwood as firewood. (This is also true of all our orchard trees).
Paulownia (coming soon)
Because they are primeval, because they outlive us, because they are fixed, trees seem to emanate a sense of permanence. And though rooted in earth, they seem to touch the sky. For these reasons it is natural to feel we might learn wisdom from them, to haunt about them with the idea that if we could only read their silent riddle rightly we should learn some secret vital to our own lives; or even, more specifically, some secret vital to our real, our lasting and spiritual existence. (Kim Taplin)
This post is a work in progress. If you have any suggestions for woodlot trees hardy in Zone 5, or some other consideration I had not mentioned, please let me know in the comments below!