Last edited 10 May 2022

Pollarding

Pollarding is a forestry method similar to pruning in which the upper branches of a tree are cut back but the base and roots are left intact. It has been a common practice in the UK since medieval times when it allowed easy removal of timber for fuel whilst encouraging greater foliage regrowth, which was used as animal feed and bedding.

Pollarded trees often live longer, and produce denser wood as they grew more slowly. Pollarded forests that are maintained may also have had a greater diversity of species because sunlight can reach deeper into the forest as the higher branches are cut. The harvesting cycles of pollards tend to be between 3 to 15 years, and no more than 20, however, the system is informal as each branch and tree can be treated according to its own readiness.

Today pollarding is most-commonly practiced in urban environments, to prevent root invasion and control the overall size of the tree. It needs to be carried out at the right time and then repeated every few years to maintain both the look and size of the tree. It is also often carried out on fruit trees, although this may be considered more in line with pruning.

In general pollarding can result in quite straight timber growths and as such, products such as fence posts can be produced from pollarded timber.

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