Should I Brace or Cable my Trees?

You may clearly see that your leaning tree is in trouble or, there could be weak limbs or structural deficiencies you don’t notice. As we head into stormy winter weather, it’s a smart idea to get an evaluation by a certified arborist to avoid any potential risk. In the tree care industry we define hazard by target. Are people and or structures in danger if your tree falls? If so, cabling and or bracing could be an option for saving the tree and protecting you from an expensive accident.

There are several reasons to consider cabling and or bracing.

1. Hazard Reduction: As we mentioned above, when a leaning or damaged tree is in the trajectory of a home or business.
2. Restoration: To extend the life of a valued tree that has suffered some structural damage.
3. Prevention: Trees with long or heavy limbs and trees with codominant stems or “v-crotches,” are at greater risk of breakage. Early corrective pruning is optimal but if this hasn’t been done, bracing may be an option.
4. Young Trees: When planting, consider the height of the tree in reference to the size of its root ball. If the tree has a large trunk and or canopy with a small root system, staking may be needed. Also, consider the environment, if you live in an area with frequent high winds and dry arid soil, bracing is important.

Cabling and bracing systems can be complex depending on the size and health of your tree. Brace rods are used to repair a split crotch or branch. They are usually accompanied by at least one cable for support. The brace rods are threaded into the tree in configurations best determined to support the trees continued growth. The rods become a permanent feature and the tree can completely grow around the hardware. Cable systems can be direct, triangular, box and or hub and spoke. Cabling typically restricts the movement of a branch with the use of static or dynamic cables, anchors and termination hardware for connection to the anchor.

Dynamic cables have more elasticity and can be used to strengthen a relatively healthy tree. They are typically made of synthetic fiber with high UV resistance and have the advantage of allowing the tree to move in a more natural way. Static cables are traditionally steel cables and are needed when the tree is in imminent danger of failing. Steel cables are meant to restrict movement at the compromised union. Though the trees natural movement is restricted, most trees adapt to the steel cables, provided they are properly installed. Don’t think “Superman, or Trees of Steel” though…despite their strength, steel cables are not 100% guaranteed against tree failure.

All cabling and bracing systems need to be periodically inspected and maintained. The material used in dynamic systems erodes and breaks down over time and both systems need to be moved higher in the canopy as the tree grows. Both systems should be maintained at two thirds of the distance from the compromised union to the top of the tree. Slack can occur in the cables as the trees grow and extreme weather conditions can cause changes in the support structure as well. A quality tree service company will discuss the correct inspection schedule before the installation of any support system.

With so much to consider: the strength and material of the hardware, the formation and arrangement of the cables, the location, type and size of the entries made into the tree… hiring a certified and experienced arborist is crucial! Not all structural defects can be corrected by tree support systems. At Joe Benigno’s Tree Service we will give you an educated and qualified appraisal of your tree’s best chance of continued healthy growth with the optimal support system and maintenance plan to make that happen.

Protect your landscaping environment by hiring a professional. Call us for your free estimate today!

Recent Posts