What is Tree Pollarding?
Pollarding is a tree pruning method utilised by tree surgeons for varied reasons and benefits, some of which we will outline below.
The recognised, industry-standard way of pollarding a tree is based on science, tree biology and tried and tested techniques. A true pollard encourages lateral branch growth by removing the stem or lesser limbs to around three metres above ground level.
After the initial pruning, the tree is then allowed to regrow but once pollarded; the tree will require regular re-pollarding to maintain its health. Over time, this process will result in a swollen or somewhat expanded top to the stem with increased shoots and denser foliage.
Poorly performed pollards may kill your tree or cause structural weaknesses that can lead to problems or failures in the future.
This extreme form of pruning must be carried out correctly and only administered to suitable trees to ensure their health and longevity.
It’s best to pollard trees in their infancy, as pollarding older trees may result in their death. You increase the likelihood of killing the tree if there aren’t any branches below height defining cuts or the tree is an inappropriate species. Some tree species appropriate for and commonly pollarded include Willow, Horse Chesnut, London Plane, Sycamore, Ash, Lime and Maple.
At CHAS approved Foremans Tree Specialists Ltd, we have successfully pollarded countless trees in Horsham, Crawley, Chichester, West Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and across the South-East. What’s best is our highly trained and qualified arborists will quickly identify and discuss with you if your tree is suitable for pollarding. If not, we’ll provide alternative solutions to help you achieve your desired arboricultural goals.
Contact the team today, and a member of our helpful staff will happily book you in for a free quotation or give you more information should you require it.
Why are trees pollarded?
Pollarding is one of our most requested services and keeps trees smaller than they would naturally grow. This heavy pruning technique, most commonly used in public places, removes all but the essential branches from a tree, stripping it back to minimise the inconvenience of low hanging branches and large shaded areas. Pollarding results in a smaller area of dense foliage, and you can aesthetically liken them to lollipops.
Some benefits of pollarding a tree
Its often presumed that pollarding is a terrible practice and detrimental to the health of the tree, but this is only if performed incorrectly and to the wrong type of tree. The benefits of tree pollarding are numerous and well documented. You can even find evidence of pollarding dated back to medieval times when the Romans used it to promote denser foliage from their branches.
Here are just a few benefits and examples of situations where pollarding may be a useful solution:
- Pollarding restricts the height and span the tree can reach, which is particularly useful in public spaces. It reduces the risk of falling branches, rotten stems, deadwood and fruits, which may cause injury to persons or damage property. It can also reduce the volume and spread of leaves and debris.
- Trees pollarded at a young age may live longer than trees left to grow naturally (maiden trees) as they are not subject to as much windage or weight.
- Pollards tend to grow more slowly due to limiting the tree’s surface area, suppressing its photosynthesise ability.
- Many arboriculturalists believe pollarding improves the general health of trees.
- If allowed to regrow for more extended periods, pollarded trees can be a timber source suitable for firewood or producing fencing and boatbuilding materials.
- Substantially pollarding a tree may result in a greater yield of flowers and or fruits.
The most common reasons for pollarding trees
Primarily, we pollard trees for both aesthetic and practical purposes; the most common we have listed below:
- Pollarded trees look uniform and prevent branches from interfering with structures, power lines or telephone cables.
- In locations where space is limited, pollarding will reduce the canopy’s size freeing up more space and allowing more light to penetrate the surrounding area.
- Rather than eradicating the tree, pollarding means we can retain it for years to come while benefiting from its positive effects on the ecosystem and surroundings.
- In areas prone to flooding or waterlogging, pollarding a tree is often a compromise to complete removal. Total removal only worsens the problem as there would be no tree to suck up the water.
Is tree pollarding a bad practice?
As discussed above, well performed and timed pollarding can be hugely beneficial in certain circumstances and situations. Unfortunately, “pollarding” is often confused with “topping”, an awful practice that promotes decay and is detrimental to the tree’s health as a whole.
Topping involves cutting the tree to a set height with no regard to the tree’s growth points, age, or species. If the topping severity doesn’t kill the tree entirely, it will promote large amounts of epicormic growth or leave the tree vulnerable to disease and or decay.
It’s necessary to remind you that pollarding a tree should be consistent and periodic. The frequency will depend on the purpose, i.e. for general maintenance, we suggest every two years, but firewood or sustainable material production pollarding could be more than five years.
We must also add if you begin pollarding and stop you may encourage damage and disease caused by heavy branches and weak unions.
It’s understandable that even with all the information we’ve provided, you may still be unsure if pollarding your tree is appropriate or not. But fear not; our team of knowledgeable staff and qualified arborists are ready and willing to talk you through your options and address any concerns.
Contact us today for more information about our insured tree pollarding services or arrange a site visit and free no-obligation quotation.