Pollarding is most effective when applied to young trees rather than mature ones. Young trees respond more promptly to any wounds inflicted during the process, minimising the risk of decay. The initial step involves growing the tree to the desired height, typically ranging from 3 to 6 feet, with a framework of three to five branches.
How to prune :
This pruning technique is commonly performed in late Winter or early Spring (late January to March) for most species. However, species like Acers and Mulberry are pollarded earlier while they are still fully dormant to prevent bleeding.
To carry out pollarding, use a pruning saw to cut branches significantly back to two buds, usually within 5-8 centimetres of the main stem. It is crucial to ensure that all cuts are neat for quick healing and water shedding. Following pruning, apply a generous feed of fertiliser and then mulch to promote robust Summer growth.
A regular pruning cycle should occur every one to three years. During this process, new growth is pruned just above the previous cuts to avoid exposing older wood susceptible to decay. As the tree matures, occasional thinning may be necessary to evenly space out the remaining shoots, removing any overcrowded growth. Additionally, eliminate shoots appearing on the main trunk or suckers from the base of the tree.
After pollarding, it is essential to maintain the pruning cycle as the weight and angle of new branches can lead to weakness. To open up the plant’s centre, remove one or two older stems to the base annually.
While some deciduous garden trees respond well to pollarding, it is generally not successful for mature trees. Conifers, excluding Taxus Baccata, should not be pollarded as they do not regenerate from old wood. Certain deciduous trees, such as Birch and Prunus, may look unattractive as pollards. Large street trees like limes and planes, however, benefit from pollarding every two to four years to prevent them from outgrowing their allotted space.
Species that pollard well :
Species that respond well to pollarding include Acer Negundo, Acer Pensylvanicum Erythrocladum, Ailanthus Altissima, Catalpa Bignonioides, Cercis Canadensis, Cotinus Coggygria, Eucalyptus Gunnii, Liriodendron, Morus Alba, and Salix Acutifolia Blue Streak.