Hazel

The hazel tree is a native species found across the whole of the UK. It has a long history of coppicing and its wood has many uses. It is quick growing and is therefore an ideal tree to grow in your garden if you are looking for a wood source. It is also a good tree for planting in the under-story and therefore increasing biodiversity beneath large mature deciduous trees. The hazel tree also produces nuts, cob nuts are commercially produced in Kent. Though further north, nuts are tiny and you will run into difficulties getting ripe nuts before birds and other animals eat them all.

Growing Hazel trees:

Hazel trees can be bought from a garden centre or plant nursery as two year old trees ready for transplanting into your garden, or they can be grown from nuts collected from an existing hazel tree in September. The nuts should be de-husked and popped in water. Any that float should be discarded and those that sink should then be placed in horticultural sand and put somewhere shady where mice and other pests cannot get at them. Leave them over the winter.

From the end of February you should check for signs of germination. Sow in large pots, two per pot or in a seed bed. Plant seeds 2-3cm deep and firm soil around them. Make sure that you water enough to keep the pots moist and remember to guard against mice. They love hazelnuts and will try to get at them and could easily eat all your hard work. Cover pots or beds with netting or wire mesh and protect until saplings are well established and at least 15cm tall.

Hazel trees should be planted in the garden where they can continue to grow when they are around two years old. Clear weeds and grass and make a large enough hole to accommodate the root ball. Be sure to replant tree at the same depth as it was in the pot and firm the soil to create a sturdy footing.

If you want to create a hazel coppice then you should let the trees grow for 3-4 years before cutting all growth back to the ground. This should encourage the growth of long, straight stems that are typical of coppiced hazel. Hazel is usually coppiced on a seven year rotation.

Why grow a hazel tree in the garden?

Hazel trees are a delightful addition to the home garden. If you live in the south you may get nuts large enough to be worth the bother of harvesting (if you can get them before the birds and other creatures do). Even in the northern reaches of the UK though, hazel trees can be very useful wood. Hazel burns quickly, as all faster growing wood does, but it can be effective for a wood burning stove or fire, especially when seasoned. Coppiced hazel can also be used for staking, fence building, making greenwood furniture and other interesting and useful craft projects.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Corylus avellana