Winter Pruning

We are getting on top of winter jobs.  Pruning a red- stemmed Acer tree, to keep it in bounds in a small garden. As a bonus there will be beautiful pea sticks for the vegetable garden.

 The tree is growing in my in-law’s garden. It is far too vigorous for its position. But the stems are a glorious bright red in winter, and the leaves have good autumn colour. So we Pollard  it to keep it manageable and to ensure that it doesn’t cast too much shade. 

This will be the second year of looking after my in-law’s garden- hoping to keep them in their own home for as long as possible. They have lived in this house since it was built 60 years ago. The garden is my father in laws pride and joy and is totally immaculate. Now they have carers calling twice a day, and various other health care professionals  regularly popping in, it is wonderful to have a beautiful  garden for them all to enjoy. It’s lovely to see visitors smile when they look out of the windows. Their jobs can’t be easy. But a colourful well-tended garden lifts everyone’s spirits. 

Pollarding is a method of pruning where the upper branches of a tree or shrub are removed, creating a dense head of foliage and branches. It’s a technique  to keep trees smaller than they would naturally grow. Of course, it would be best to plant the right tree in the right place, in the first place. But this doesn’t always happen in real life.

The bark of this acer is beautiful too. I am glad we are able to save this tree, by careful pruning every year. And the colourful pea sticks will be a joy in summer when we grow deep purple Shiraz Mangetout through the scarlet twiggy sticks. 

Trees that respond to pollarding include: lime, London plane, mulberry, oak, ash, liriodendron and willow and some acers.

At home, I pollard shrubs including Cotinus Grace, to keep it within bounds  and  to encourage the large purple leaves it produces. And a Salix Britzensis or scarlet willow, which produces the most colourful stems on new growth. 

Our trees require only a hand saw and loppers and a short ladder.  For larger trees I would recommend a tree surgeon. To search for a qualified professional look on line at the Arboricultural Association

15 thoughts on “Winter Pruning

  1. You’ve reminded me I need to tackle our mature acer before it starts growing again. It struggled in the shadow of two enormous beech trees, planted in the wrong place (not by me!). I’m trying to get the acer back into shape a little each year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We had to crack on before the sap starts rising. Otherwise the acer tends to “bleed.” The best time would be mid summer- but we are flat out with work then, so now it has to be. Autumn is too late as fungi might get into the cut surfaces. Good luck with your pruning. Do share photos when you have a minute. I’ve missed your garden progress reports. x


  2. so true! It’s the least we can do after all the love and support they have shown us over the years. We did panic a bit at first as to how we would run two gardens, our own and theirs. Especially as his garden is so beautiful and immaculately maintained. When he was still mobile, my father in law would grow all their own flowers and veg. I should think he pottered about in the garden most days. We are doing our best to keep it going. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interestingly, I was looking at used yacht cording last night and the colouration, a mix of faded, and mid range reddish colours, is very much like your pictures of pruned sticks. The Sticks are rather lovely in their own right.

    Liked by 1 person

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