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Pruning Techniques: Pollarding Vs. Topping a Tree

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

Pruning is one of the most common tree maintenance practices. Although trees in the forest grow quite well with natural pruning, landscapes require a higher level of care and maintenance to keep their structural integrity and maintain their aesthetics. It is necessary to use the right techniques to prune a tree. Trees can often get damaged or even die with improper pruning techniques.


There are two main types of pruning techniques – Pollarding and Topping. Pollarding involves trimming trees which helps to control their mature size and shape. This technique is especially useful when you want to create a uniform landscape forming a ball-like canopy. In areas where trees cannot be allowed to grow their full size, pollarding is used to encourage the growth of the trees in a specific fashion and size. There are several reasons why trees cannot be allowed to grow in a specific way. This includes space restrictions due to a power line or fencing, another tree or limited space due to some kind of impediment. In the pollarding technique, the central leader of the tree is cut off and all the lateral branches are kept at the same height within a few feet of the tree’s crown. The height of the lowest branch is maintained at six feet above the ground or higher so that grazing animals do not eat the new growth. The practice of pollarding trees is taken when the tree is dormant, usually in the winter or early spring.


Topping a tree involves the practice of removing the whole top part of the tree. This includes taking out branches and/or trunks that are present on the top of trees and leaving stubs and lateral branches that are too weak or small to assume the role of the principal branch. Many species of trees respond poorly to the practice of topping and often die or get damaged. One common misconception about topping trees is that the exposed part of the tree absorbs better sunlight, which is not true in all cases. Sometimes a tree may get scalded due to sunlight and is likely to die. Another misconception why trees are topped is that many people believe that topping a tree leads to better growth. This is because when trees are topped, one can notice a sudden growth of adventitious shoots. But this is only a tree’s response to the loss of leaves and not exactly a growth.


When it comes to choosing between pollarding and topping, most nature lovers choose the pollard option. This is because young trees that are pollard regrow faster and better than older trees. Moreover, they are observed to be less susceptible to disease. Topping is perhaps the most harmful practice and is being criticized by several nature conservationists. Topping a tree can cause it to weaken severely or even die. Often regrowth is also a problem when trees are topped.


When it comes to taking care of trees, most people rely on conventional wisdom rather than seeking help from a professional tree service company like Arbor Care Tree Service Inc., who are helping several Mississauga and Oakville neighborhoods with knowledgeable advice and services for tree trimming, removal and pruning. If you are looking for an Arborist in Mississauga or Oakville, call Arbor Care Tree Service Inc. today to maintain and care for your trees correctly.


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