Things I’ve learnt -pollarding

I first heard about pollarding from one of my favourite blogs – Ilona

A commenter thought it mutilation. Well, that person has obviously never seen how Australian electricity suppliers prune trees so they don’t touch the electricity wires.  A huge hole through the middle of the tree canopy or loping off half a tree without any consideration to aesthetics are the preferred practices. That’s mutilaion, indeed. 

Here’s some shots from around my suburb. 




In this next one it is hard to believe that all the growth to the left is the tree, a jacaranda, that has been pruned, I mean massacred, on the right. How unbalanced is that? 


Do you like the hole through the canopy in this tree? Sometimes the top of the hole closes up, leaving the tree to look as if a canon ball has been shot through it.   

Walking around London, I see pollarding seems to be the usual practice. 

A much better management of trees in the urban environment. I can imagine the fresh, green growth that will come in a few weeks. And the trees will physically fit in the area while still providing foliage and shade. 

Of course, we have eucalypts which don’t have a time when they hybernate. But there are still plenty of deciduous trees planted. Councils seem to think there are two choices for trees on street verges – pick an “appropriate” tree (ie one that doesn’t grow) or massacre it. 

I’ve seen a third way. Imagine if our arborists practised pollarding?  And not just for trees on the street verge. But in smaller plots. And let’s face it, Sydney blocks are shrinking, being subdivided to smaller and smaller plots which will discourage the planting of trees – because they “don’t fit”. Well, here’s our answer. 




12 thoughts on “Things I’ve learnt -pollarding

  1. Oh, I’m hearing you. Here in Launceston beautiful old oak trees are hacked around to stop them interfering with power lines – clearly most of these trees were planted pre-electrification, but even now I see very stupid planting decisions by the council about what sort of trees to plant under power lines. Elm trees? Honestly, two minute’s research on the height of those trees would have sufficed..

    • Why don’t we train our tree loppers on aesthetics? Why are they so brutal?

      Silly me. It’s money. Fast and furious.

      And if they plant talk growing trees, and won’t put the lines underground, they could still pollard them. I obviously don’t know enough. Don’t know if elms can be pollarded, but surely we can get some people out from England to train our arborists?

  2. Ha ha, I hope Sarah will weigh in on this! They do the same here. I agree it is stupid planting decisions. And better to lop big holes in tree canopies than to remove them altogether. I wonder if the nearest home owners would be willing to adopt and trim the trees themselves (at least, going forward with new trees, because the old ones would be so costly to trim correctly).

    • I know it comes down to costs, but why do they manage to do it in England?

      And I bet tree pruning is one of the major topics of complaints for the electricity companies. And it can only get worse when/if they are privatised and profits become an even stronger driving force.

  3. Definitely need Sarah to weigh in! Our street had to vote a month ago on the trees to be planted on the nature strip. Needless to say, I had opinions which I wrote as a separate page of notes on the survey for council! I’m thrilled that the species I really hoped for was chosen.

    I had to look up pollarding, but the internet says it has been practised since the Middle Ages. I wonder why it isn’t done here?

  4. Your pictures remind me of where I live! That’s how they “trim” trees here too. Thankfully newly built neighborhoods (last 15 years or so) must have everything underground so we don’t worry about them hacking up our trees!

    Maybe they favor pollarding in London because the city is older and they ran into this problem years ago?

    • Why are we all slow to learn?

      I do like the underground utilities. My neighbourhood is old and I don’t think there is any plan or funds to convert it. But new suburbs here all do the underground thing too.

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