Pollarding is a method encouraging new growth, and helps to maintain a partial juvenile status of the tree. This is done on a rotation length dependent upon the end product required. With trees producing withies for thatching or gardening cutting annually, or those managed for fire wood production on a five-year rotation basis.
Generally mature trees are not suitable for pollarding because of the lack of regrowth which is required. The exception to the rule is yew conifers, which generally don’t pollard as well as the broadleaf species.
It is generally excepted that trees that enjoy vigorous regrowth are the most suitable for this treatment. These include:
- Horse and Sweet Chestnut
Younger trees are less susceptible to disease and appropriate for this treatment. They will show better growth than older trees.
It is important before carrying out pollarding to trees that they first should be allowed to grow above the browsing line (1.8 metres), and pollarding should be carried out in the winter months from January to March. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but this is generally the recommended time to carry out work.
The process of pollarding
The branches should be shortened or cut leaving 5-8 cm of the main stern, and ensuring that the cuts are clean to encourage healing and water shedding.
Once the pollarding process has been started in areas of multiple tree growth, this should be rotated or they will potentially develop heavy branches which could be detrimental to the bio mechanical structure of the tree. Also overcrowding and potential diseases can occur due to increased humidity or reduction in air movement.
Advice from a professional Tree Surgeon should always be sought to make sure unmanaged pollards are being restored, as with increasing age and time between rotations, regrowth can potentially decline.
The local diversity of the environment is also in danger where neglected pollards develop thick interweaving branches, therefore reducing light to the surrounding areas, and indeed the tree itself.