In the world of arboriculture, there exists a practice that blends the elements of artistry and scientific precision: tree pollarding. This ancient technique, dating back centuries, involves the intentional pruning of a tree’s branches to promote a specific growth pattern. While it may seem drastic to the untrained eye, pollarding is a time-honoured method that offers numerous benefits to both trees and the environments they inhabit.

Understanding Tree Pollarding

At its core, tree pollarding entails the removal of the upper branches of a tree, typically leaving only the main trunk and a framework of stubby branches. This process encourages the tree to produce a dense head of foliage and new growth at the pruning points. Over time, this results in a distinctive appearance characterized by a knobby, often gnarled crown.

Historical Significance

The origins of tree pollarding can be traced back to ancient civilisations, where it was employed for a variety of purposes. In medieval Europe, for example, pollarded trees were valued for their ability to provide a sustainable source of timber, fodder for livestock, and firewood. Additionally, pollarding served aesthetic purposes in formal garden design, lending a sense of symmetry and order to landscapes.

Modern Applications

While the need for pollarding as a practical resource has diminished in modern times, its utility in urban and suburban environments remains significant. Today, tree pollarding is often employed for purposes such as:

  • Size Control: Pollarding allows trees to be maintained at a manageable size, making them suitable for planting in confined spaces such as urban streetscapes or residential yards.
  • Risk Reduction: By removing large, heavy limbs, pollarding reduces the risk of branch failure and tree-related hazards, enhancing safety for nearby structures and pedestrians.
  • Aesthetic Enhancement: Pollarded trees can create striking visual focal points in landscapes, adding character and architectural interest to parks, gardens, and public spaces.
  • Long-Term Health: When performed correctly, pollarding can rejuvenate older or overgrown trees, stimulating vigorous new growth and prolonging their lifespan.

The Pollarding Process

Successful tree pollarding requires careful planning and execution to achieve desired results while minimising stress to the tree. Key steps in the pollarding process include:

  • Selection of Suitable Species: Not all tree species are well-suited to pollarding. Typically, those with vigorous growth habits and the ability to produce epicormic shoots are preferred candidates.
  • Timing: Pollarding is typically performed during the dormant season, typically in late winter or early spring, to minimise stress and maximise regrowth.
  • Precision Pruning: Pollarding cuts should be made cleanly and precisely to minimise damage and promote rapid healing. Proper technique is essential to prevent the introduction of pests or diseases.
  • Post-Pollarding Care: After pollarding, trees require ongoing maintenance, including regular monitoring for regrowth, pruning of water sprouts, and adequate watering and fertilisation to support recovery.


In the intricate tapestry of arboriculture, tree pollarding is a testament to the harmonious balance between human intervention and natural processes. From its humble origins as a practical necessity to its modern-day applications in urban forestry and landscape design, pollarding continues to shape the world around us, enriching our lives with its beauty and functionality. As stewards of the green spaces we inhabit, let us embrace the art and science of tree pollarding, ensuring a verdant legacy for generations to come.

We can take care of all your Pollarding needs. We will also provide you with a FREE, complimentary garden tree survey while we are there.  Call us now to book.

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