Tree Pollarding

Tree pollarding is a pruning system involving the removal of the upper branches of a tree, promotes a dense head of foliage and branches.

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Tree Pollarding Service

At Arborfield Tree Care, pollarding is a method of pruning that keeps trees and shrubs smaller than they would naturally grow. It is normally started once a tree or shrub reaches a certain height.  Annual pollarding will restrict the plant to that height.  Traditionally, tree pollarding was used to harvest the wood for fuel, posts, fencing etc. The new shoots were then used as fodder for livestock. Today, tree pollarding is done to maintain the health of a tree and reduce a range of risks.

If you would like to book a tree pollarding service from Arborfield Tree Care, contact us on 0118 976 1000 or 0800 074 1886.

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Tree pollarding is generally the removal of all smaller branches and shoots. The remaining larger limbs are often seen with a knuckle like finish. This technique keeps trees healthy and prevents them from growing out of control, maintaining balance. Tree pollarding can be carried out annually depending on species, but is more often performed at multiple year intervals. Frequent pollarding will also slow down root growth and can prevent sub level damage. Tree pollarding is often essential to bring a tree back to a healthy state and reduce excessive weight and vulnerability to high winds. Trees in Reading and surrounding areas can often be seen in a pollarded state preventing them from affecting telephone lines and other such infrastructures such as street lighting. The best time to pollard a tree is from late winter to early spring. However, if required, pollarding can be done throughout the year.

Common trees that can be pollarded include: Willow (Salix), Ash (Fraxinus), Common Lime (Tilia x Europea), Elm (Ulmus), Elder (Sambucus), Mulberry (Morus), London Plane (Platanus x Hispanica), Tulip Tree (Liriodendron), Gum (Eucalyptus), some species of Acer ( A negundo and it cultivars) Poplar and some Oaks (Quercus).

How To Pollard

Tree pollarding in young trees

Tree pollarding can begin once young trees or shrubs have reached the desired height.  This involves choosing a framework:

On a shrub, this might be one stem cut to a metre high; a mass of stems will then grow from the top.  With a tree, it is more typical to leave a trunk supporting three or five branches.  These branches are then cut back to a desired length and the twiggy growth appears at these ends.  Initially, the new branches are held weakly in place, but they do grow rapidly from underneath the bark, as opposed from within the tree. As the wood lays down annual growth rings, the union strengthens, thereby forming a thickened base where the shoot meets the trunk. Over a number of years, a swollen ‘pollard head’ forms where new shoots grow each year.


Maintaining the tree pollard

Once a tree or shrub is pollarded, we advise that you continue the annual cycle of cutting.  The branches should be pruned just above the previous pollarding cuts each pollarding cycle.  In some instances, such as where some leaf cover is required, we leave some branches intact or cut back to a side branch.

Rejuvenating an overgrown pollarded tree

When rejuvenating an overgrown tree, we advise that you seek advice from an arborist before doing any work. Although having a tree pollarded regularly is expensive, an overgrown pollard may require more surgery to remove larger parts of the tree at a greater height and increasing the overall costs further.

At Arborfield Tree Care we carry out the following to rejuvenate an overgrown pollarded tree or shrub: 

  • We remove any spindly and weakly attached branches and limbs
  • We consider whether the branches can be thinned out, and reduced in length, to create a tree-like framework, thereby effectively restoring the pollard to a tree
  • We may possibly remove all the branches that have grown from the stumps of the old pollards.

Potential problems with tree pollarding

Trees with weaker wood are prone to producing multiple shoots, such as poplar and willow. This can become hazardous with some of the weakly attached branches and limbs. These can break off and fall to the ground and pose a potential health and safety risk. We can provide a regular cutting cycle and carry out regular safety checks. Similar problems can also occur with trees such as beech (Fagus sylvatica), oak (Quercus robur) and sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). The branches can become heavy when pollarding lapses for several decades, and these may break away in windy weather.

If you are in any doubt and require additional information or would like to book a tree pollarding service from Arborfield Tree Care contact us on 0118 976 1000 or 0800 074 1886. We pride ourselves on providing an excellent service at competitive rates, and our clear up is second to none.


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We provide tree felling and dismantling services to both residential and commercial customers across Berkshire, Hampshire and Surrey. We understand how important your property is to you and your family, we ensure it is safe from damaged trees, which can be a Health and Safety hazard. We leave no aspect of tree surgery uncovered, call your local experts on 0118 976 1000