We were contacted some time ago about this tree. The owner did not want to have the tree removed but the neighbours were not happy about its size and wanted it gone. As a compromise we decided a framework pollard would be the best approach to take. A pollard is an ancient pruning method similar to coppicing, all the branches are removed leaving only the central tunk. Pollards are trunks that are left heigh out of the reach of grazing animals and coppicing is much lower to the ground. A framework pollard removes all the smaller branches and buds but some of the main branches remain to give a structure and shape to the tree once it regenerates.
Pollarding is not recommended for all trees and the tree should be re-pollarded in 2-5 years time. This is because the regrowth is not as strongly attached to the tree as natural extension growth (growth from a bud). It also makes the tree look ‘post apocalyptic’ for a short while. Willow, because of it vigorous nature, makes a good tree to pollard and healthy willow will always regenerate regardless of how much you take off.
This willow involved quite a lot of work. It was going to be a low pollard with only the lowest branches being retained to give it some shape. As you can see from the pictures there are 4 sheds under the tree. Thats shed-loads of sheds! so most of the tree was cut small and lowered to the ground using lowering equipment. The trickiest part was the limb on the back of the tree. The diameter was the size of a large dinner plate and all the branches had to be tied to the rope one at a time and swung in a controlled manner before being lowered to the ground.
The last picture shows the finished product. It looks bare but it will only be a few weeks before it starts to regenerate and by summer it will be covered on leaves again. The customer was very happy with the job and now has some happy neighbours.