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  • Callum Ward

When Should You Pollard a Tree?

Tree pollarding, a horticultural practice with deep roots in history, remains a topic of interest and debate amongst arborists and gardening enthusiasts alike. This method involves the removal of the upper branches of a tree, promoting a dense head of foliage and branches. But when should one undertake this significant task?



tree pollarding


The Essence of Tree Pollarding

Before delving into the "when," it's essential to grasp the "why" of tree pollarding. Originally, this practice was developed in Europe to produce new wood for various purposes, including fodder, firewood, and poles. In contemporary times, pollarding is predominantly employed to manage tree size and shape, particularly in urban environments where space is at a premium. It also helps in maintaining the health of certain tree species and in preventing potential damage to property or public utilities.


Optimal Timing for Pollarding

The timing of tree pollarding is crucial and varies depending on several factors including the tree species, its location, and the specific objectives of the pollarding. However, there are general guidelines that can help determine the most suitable period for this activity.

  1. Late Winter or Early Spring: For most tree species, the ideal time to pollard is towards the end of winter or the beginning of spring. During this period, trees are still dormant, reducing the stress inflicted by pruning and enhancing their recovery in the growing season. This timing also minimises the risk of disease transmission, as many pathogens are less active in colder weather.

  2. After the Last Frost: It's advisable to wait until the threat of the last frost has passed. This precaution helps prevent the newly exposed cuts from being damaged by frost, which can lead to dieback or infection.

  3. Consider the Tree Species: Certain species have specific needs. For example, trees that bleed sap heavily, like maples and walnuts, should be pollarded when they are fully dormant in mid-winter to avoid excessive sap loss. Conversely, species prone to diseases, such as oak trees, may benefit from being pollarded in the peak of summer to reduce the risk of pathogen infection.

Key Considerations for Effective Pollarding

  • Frequency: Once initiated, pollarding requires commitment. It should be carried out regularly, typically every 1 to 5 years, depending on the growth rate of the tree and the desired outcome. Regular maintenance prevents the development of large wounds, which can be detrimental to the tree's health.

  • Professional Advice: An expert can assess the specific needs of your tree, considering its species, age, and health, to provide a tailored approach.

  • Legal and Environmental Implications: Before proceeding, it's important to check local regulations regarding tree management. Some areas may have restrictions or require permits for pollarding activities, especially for trees with conservation status or those located in protected areas.


Tree pollarding, when done correctly and at the appropriate time, can be a beneficial practice for tree management and landscape aesthetics. By understanding the best practices and timing for pollarding, you can ensure the longevity and health of your trees. Get in touch with us if you're considering tree pollarding and would like to receive expert advice, a comprehensive assessment of your tree's health, and a bespoke maintenance plan tailored to ensure the well-being and aesthetic appeal of your trees and garden.

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