Out of control olive tree – how hard can we prune?
We have recently moved into a new block of land - at the bottom of the plot is an olive tree which is 15 to 20 m in height (yes it is a huge ever green tree!). Needless to say the canopy is well above any step ladder, and the best we can harvest is to put a mat around the bottom and collect what falls off! The tree is blocking a lot of light and we would like to bring it down to step ladder levels 2 to 4 m. Is is possible to pollard a large olive tree like this down to a more manageable level? Or will this kill / harm the tree? Is it just too large and needs to be removed?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Hi Matt, That's a big olive tree that you have. I would not advise you to head it back that hard. It will be open to sunburn on the woody branches and trunk, which can progress into severe wood decay.
Heading cuts/topping if it doesn't set the tree back seriously, will cause rampant growth of multiple sprouts that will get thick and heavy and unnatural looking.
I would consider it a blessing, not a burden and try to find a way to live with the natural form and beauty of a mature tree like that. You already have an alternative method for harvesting. Is there a local arborist who can do a professional "moderate crown reduction pruning" ?, not too severe and preserve the foliar shading of the branch structure.