Storm Damaged Tree? Don’t Cut It Down Just Yet!

Tree branches can grow too heavily, or they could be damaged by weather conditions. Bracing or cabling may be the only options, other than the removal, to save these trees when they are in need of structural support and beauty preservation. These methods are the two most common forms of structural support. The tree should be healthy with plenty of sound wood prior to bracing or cabling. The wood needs to be sound to effectively complete the procedure.

Braces are always supported with the help of a cabling system. Cables can be placed alone. There are other ways of supporting the structure of a tree. They are known as guying or propping. However, these techniques are not as effective.

Bracing a Tree

A tree may begin to lean or split at the crotch, especially when its branches are too large to support themselves. Older and larger trees can become weak in some low areas. Bracing is the main and more popular alternative. Bracing is when support is placed around two or more trunks (leders) of the tree. A brace can help to keep it from splitting at the open crotch. Bracing usually helps the tree to retain its magnificent splendor.

Cabling a Tree

Cabling is different in that it is normally placed higher up in the crown of the tree. Cabling is needed when a branch is in danger of splitting away from the main part of the crown. When a branch is cabled it is secured to stronger branches. There are times when a branch in the crown may need more than one cable. Cabling helps keep the branch from failing and needing to be cut off. As long as there is reasonable life in the branch, cabling could save it until it is strong enough to hold itself.

A decision to brace or cable a tree is usually made by an arboriculturist (arborist). An arborist is a tree surgeon and a manager of trees. Cultivation and the study of individual trees are other tasks that an arborist performs. An arborist will choose the best place to brace or cable a tree. Usually, if a branch must be cut away from a tree, the arborist will make that decision based on experience and education.

Normally, there are three reasons that a tree is braced or cabled:

  • restoration
  • prevention
  • migration

Whatever the reason for a failed branch, the decision to brace or cable it should be made by a true arborist. Cutting is the last resort, that is, if the branch is not being removed for safety sake. Many times when bracing or cabling is necessary, the tree will experience better days.

Tree brace

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Peter Wendt is a writer from Austin, Texas specializing in home and garden issues. He recently needed to cable a tree in his backyard for safety and found to be very helpful.

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