The word pollarding is coined out of the word “to poll”, meaning “to have the hair scraped from the head”. Not until recently, pollarding is not regarded as a modern practice yet it’s practiced worldwide in different urban areas. Basically, this traditional practice was used majorly for either silage to feed farm animals or, for wood. For loggers who also rear farm animals, they practice pollarding by pruning trees and woody plants to get livestock feed.

  • What Is Tree Pollarding?
  • How Does Pollarding Work?
  • The Best Time to Pollard a Tree
  • Usefulness Of pollarding
  • Complications


  • What Is Tree Pollarding?

Tree pollarding is a pruning strategy usually carried out on trees and shrubs to control and keep them shorter than they would have grown naturally. It is commonly practiced in woodland areas to encourage lateral branches by cutting off secondary limbs a few meters above ground level.

Also, the practice is often used to restrict tree size and height especially in areas where tall trees could obstruct structures, nearby facilities, or dominate other trees.

The pruning technique can only be carried out on young trees, and trees which have been pollarded earlier. If performed on old or mature trees, the large injury left behind could result in severe damage, resulting in decay or death instead, young trees should be used. A pollarded tree is often referred to as “a pollard”. A tree that is permitted to grow naturally without being cut as a pollard is referred to as ”a maiden tree”. It is important to know that the technique is not applicable to all tree types.


  • How Does Pollarding Work?

Keep an eye on the young trees you intend to pollard, once you notice that they have grown to a desired level or height, you can now go ahead and pollard. However, make sure you have a framework.

  • Select branches for the framework: Three to five branches would be selected to form your intending framework
  • Eliminate leftover branches: All the remaining branches should be eliminated, cut down completely
  • Prune the selected branches: Prune the branches forming the framework into the length and shape that you prefer.
  • Repeat pruning: Aside from the preliminary cut back, the pollarded tree will have to be pruned annually to maintain canopy shape
  • Maintenance: Annual maintenance would be carried out in order to maintain the shape of the pollarded tree. Prune branches precisely above prior pollarding cuts. Leaf cover might be required in some situations, no worries at all, just cut back sideways or better still you can retain the branches.

Instead of new branches to grow from within the tree, they bud rapidly from beneath the bark and as such are weakly attached to the trunk. But the union becomes strengthened as the woods lay down annual growth rings and the base becomes thicker where the shoot and the trunk meet.


  • The Best Time to Pollard a Tree

Timing is a huge factor for a successful pollard. Knowing that not all trees or shrub can be pollarded, there is a need to know the exact time of the year when pruning can take place.

The best time to pollard most trees and shrubs is during the dormant winter month. Plants tend to be dormant in late winter and early spring, having their leaves weathered and fallen. There are few leaves on the tree and as such, you can access all parts of the tree while pruning and as well see the shape you are creating. However, there is an exception to this rule and that is why you need the help of a professional. The following tips would also help:

  • Summer can be a favorable time to pollard Acer species, like maple. Spring is a bad time because its sap bleeds when pruned in spring, and can be messy.
  • Also, avoid pruning in autumn as the plant can be prone to insect and fungi infection which may cause a tree to decay when fungi get into surgery injury.


  • Usefulness Of pollarding

This pruning technique is used for numerous reasons, the major ones include;

  • To prevent a tree and shrub from growing out of bound in an environment (on a property, in the garden, on the street, and the likes).
  • Shades cast by a tree is reduced
  • Keep trees from obstructing infrastructures such as power line and street light
  • Control tree growth on city streets and parks, majorly not to impede traffic flow
  • The traditional usefulness is to cut branches or stems to feed farm animals and as well, burned as fuel

Virtually, pollard trees tend to live longer than maiden trees because from their tender stage they have been cared for and as well, maintained. Their growth rate is slower compared to a maiden tree, having growth rings that appear narrow shortly after cutting.


  • Complications

Series of problems may surface after which a tree may have been pollarded. Some of the problems are:

  • Trees that have weaker woods are vulnerable to develop multiple shoots which can be hazardous in the future
  • Branches that are weakly-attached can tear off and invariably fall to the ground
  • Branches of tree species such as oak and beech can become really heavy and eventually break away when subjected to wind pressure. This happens mostly when pollarding lapses for several decades.


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