Pollarding is a pruning method in which the upper branches of a tree are removed to promote a dense head of foliage and branches…
Pollarding remains a popular technique. It is particularly effective in controlling a tree’s maximum height and size of trees where space is at a premium. Today, Pollarding is therefore most commonly found in smaller gardens and the urban environment. Its genesis, though, was for even more practical reasons…
The History of Pollarding
It was developed during the medieval period to meet two essential needs. These were winter fodder for livestock (‘Pollard Hay’) and wood for fuel, fencing, bowers, basket weaving and even boat building. During these early times, landowners would garnt peasants the right to pollard trees and harvest the foliage and wood. In law, this was known as an estover – a right that went even further back to the time of the Anglo-Saxons.
Fodder pollards were pruned every two to six years as this schedule produces the most abundant foliage. Wood pollards were maintained using an even longer pruning cycle of up to 15 years. This produces straight poles best suited for their intended purpose. Obviously, the longer the period between cuts, the longer the timber produced.
Benefits of Pollarding
This method was generally preferred to coppicing where livestock was being grazed as the animals could not reach the new growth.
Pollarded trees tend to live longer as the pruning regime effectively maintains them in a a partially juvenile state. Also, they are lighter and less top-heavy than standard trees. This means they can survive extreme weather more effectively. This is one of the main reason local authorities are increasingly pollarding trees in their care. Standard trees can cause extensive damage if uprooted.
Hedging Plants Suitable for Pollarding include:
Beech, Hornbeam, Willow and Yew.