Pollarding

Controlling tree growth with pollarding

Pollarding is removal of the main leader or stem of a young tree and then subsequently cutting back on a regular basis (re-pollarding) to the same points (pollard head/knuckle). Pollarding is a management system used to control the growth of a broad leaf tree throughout its life and ideally should be initiated at a relatively young age.

Re-pollarding regularly

The extent of pollarding depends on the tree species and age of the tree.  Once pollarding has been started it should be carried out on a routine basis.  This process causes vigorous re-growth, which forms a very dense crown.  The exposed surfaces of multiple cuts made on the pollard heads are prone to decay and new growth arising from near the cut surfaces are eventually supported by a very thin cylinder of wood and bark; this is why it is important to ensure that the re-growth is removed regularly to prevent excessive leverage at these points.

Regular pruning also ensures that the pruning wounds are kept as small as possible reducing the size of any potential decay pockets.  If pollarding is carried out correctly trees have been found to reach immense age and girth.

Managing the size and shape of trees

Pollarding is commonly used on ornamental trees to create visual effect in a carefully landscaped park or garden and to control the size and shape of parkland and street trees.  It was also used as a way of identifying land boundaries between landowners before wire fencing was available. A row of pollarded trees indicated where ownership of the land changed.

Trees most suited to this form of management are, lime, willow, poplar, plane and sycamore.  It is not recommended for trees such as birches, walnut and all spruce, pine and conifer type trees.

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  Pollarding

Contact us

If you have a question about pollarding or any of our other services, call Rob Lee on 01275 393047.

See also: crown thinning / felling & dismantling / hedge management / tree planting / stump grinding.