Pollarding and coppicing are primarily carried out in woodlands, in order to produce timber, often for firewood or for fencing posts. The main branch system of the tree is drastically cut back, and the tree then creates an abundance of fresh epicormic growth, which can subsequently be harvested. If the tree is in a wood-pasture or other grazing area, then in order to prevent animals from grazing on the new epicormic shoots, the tree would be cut to around 8 to 10 feet, and called a pollard. If there is no risk of grazing, then the tree would be cut to around a foot or so from the ground, and is then called a coppice.

Coppicing and pollarding is a very drastic action to take, and effectively maintains the tree in a juvenile state for many years and is not something that all trees are suitable for. The amount of timber taken off will simply kill some species. Hazel, Hornbeam, Beech, Ash, Oak, Chestnut, Alder and Willow can be coppiced, while Beech, Oak, Maple, Black Locust or False Acacia, Hornbeam, Lime, Plane, Horse Chestnut, Mulberry, Redbud and Willow, plus a few conifers, such as yews can be pollarded.

In the domestic situation, there is rarely any call for coppicing, but pollarding may be carried out, (but not normally for the production of firewood!) Whatever happens, pollarding will seriously affect the tree, and possibly kill it, as all the main branches and foliage is removed, but it may be preferable to give the tree a chance to re-grow, rather than remove it completely. As stated above, only some species respond to pollarding, and even then there are no guarantees. In some locations (often civil amenity sites) entire avenues of the same species of trees are pollarded regularly - and even in these cases, some of the trees still die, even though they have been treated no different to their neighbour! Ideally, a tree will be pollarded quite early in it's lifetime, and once started, the removal of epicormic growth should be repeated every 2 - 5 years, leaving a "knuckle" from which the next lot of growth will come from.