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  • Callum Ward

Is Pollarding Good for Trees?

Pollarding Tree

Pollarding, a tree management technique with deep historical roots, remains a topic of debate among arborists and environmentalists. This practice, which involves the removal of upper branches to promote a dense head of foliage and branches, is not merely a matter of aesthetics but also one of health and safety for the tree. Understanding the impact of pollarding on trees is essential for anyone considering this method for managing their green assets.

The Essence of Pollarding

At its core, pollarding is a form of tree pruning that is initiated when a tree is young. The process involves cutting back the tree's branches to the trunk, from which new shoots emerge. Over time, this method creates a distinctive appearance with a thick head of foliage atop a bare trunk. The primary objective of pollarding is to control the size of the tree, making it a common practice in urban environments where space is limited.

Benefits of Pollarding

Pollarding offers several benefits that contribute to its continued use. Firstly, it allows for the management of tree size and shape, ensuring that trees do not interfere with overhead wires, buildings, or streetlights. This aspect of pollarding is particularly beneficial in densely populated areas where space is at a premium.

Secondly, pollarding can extend the lifespan of certain tree species by encouraging new growth and maintaining the tree's vitality. When performed correctly, this pruning technique can ensure that trees remain healthy and productive for many years, contributing positively to the urban canopy.

Furthermore, pollarding can reduce the risk of storm damage. By regularly removing the upper branches, the tree's wind resistance is decreased, making it less likely to be uprooted or damaged during high winds. This aspect of pollarding not only protects the tree but also the surrounding property and individuals.


Despite its benefits, pollarding is not suitable for all trees. The technique is species-specific, with some trees responding well to pollarding while others may suffer or even die from the practice. It is crucial to understand the biological needs and responses of each tree species before undertaking pollarding.

Moreover, pollarding requires a commitment to regular maintenance. Once a tree has been pollarded, it must be pruned regularly to manage the new growth effectively. Failure to maintain a pollarded tree can lead to weak growth that is susceptible to disease and pest infestation, ultimately compromising the tree's health.

Additionally, the aesthetic of pollarded trees is not universally appreciated. The distinctive look of a pollarded tree can be seen as unsightly by some, making it a less desirable option for certain landscapes.

The Verdict on Pollarding

So, is pollarding good for trees? The answer is nuanced. When applied correctly and on suitable species, pollarding can be a beneficial tree management technique that supports the health, safety, and longevity of trees, especially in urban environments. However, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution and requires careful consideration of the tree's species, the environment, and the commitment to ongoing maintenance.

Pollarding, as a tree management practice, has its place in the arboricultural toolkit. It underscores the importance of understanding tree biology and the environment in which they grow. For those considering pollarding, contact us and we can provide the guidance needed to ensure that this practice benefits both the tree and the community it serves!

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