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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Can I Save My Wind Damaged Tree?

A. yes, both branches can be saved or you can remove one of the larger branches but I know removing a large part of the canopy will make it look ugly.

Repairing this type of damage is best left for professional arborists. 

If you want to tackle this yourself or hire someone to do it under your supervision, then this would be the procedure you would follow. Pay particular attention in getting the right supplies for this type of job. 

Any permanent steel that enters and stays inside the tree should be stainless. Any steel outside of the tree that would be resistant to the environment would either be stainless or galvanized. But it is very important to use stainless on anything in contact with wet tissue inside the tree.

It is also important to make sure that the supplies you use are strong enough. Use American or Western manufactured steel products. Avoid Chinese made steel products. I have been very disappointed in the quality of some of these materials from outside the United States. I realize why they are available but these supplies have to be able to accommodate the bearing load of that tree in future years.

This type of repair to a very large tree is usually beyond the abilities of most homeowners. There is also the possibility of future liability if this work is not done correctly. Having said all that, these are the basic steps that should be taken.

Supplies you will need:

  • stainless steel eye screws with a length long enough to penetrate 1/3 the diameter of the limbs
  • galvanized, stranded wire cable with a working load limit capable of supporting the canopy (for large canopies cabling may need to be done in multiple locations)
  • stainless steel partially threaded rod, washers and nuts

Equipment you will need:

  • chainsaw or arborists handsaw large enough for drop-crotching limbs
  • power drill or manually operated brace
  • wood bit long enough to drill a continuous hole through the split to accommodate the partially threaded rod

1. Reduce the load (weight) on both sides of the split by removing some of the top growth. Use a technique called drop-crotchng to remove top growth. Drop-crotching is selective removal of branches. The removal of these branches is at the “V” where the tallest branches come together with a side branch. Removal of these limbs should be just outside the “collar” of the limb to promote faster healing. Sanitize and disinfect all blades or bits used for entering the tree prior to its use.

2. Drill pilot holes for the eye screws into major limbs for securing the stranded cable. Secure eye screws into the major limbs a distance into the tree of one third the diameter of those limbs. Eye screws should be stainless steel, not galvanized or zinc plated. Large canopies may need two or more locations where eye screws are inserted and cabling is secured.

3. Secure stranded galvanized cable through eye screws and use a block and tackle, come-a-long or winch to pull these major limbs together enough so that the split visually disappears. Treat the top of the split with grafting wax to keep water from penetrating to the inside of the tree. The grafting wax is not permanent but helps keep water out of the crack until compartmentalization of the damaged area can occur. You can also use water-based asphalt sealer.

4. Drill a continuous hole through the trunk at the split. The hole should be continuous to accommodate a steel rod large enough in diameter to assist in bearing the load of the canopy.

5. Insert the stainless steel rod and secure both ends with stainless steel washers and nuts. Tighten the nuts to assist in bearing the load of the canopy.

The tree will eventually engulf the steel rod, washers and nuts. You should remember to notify anyone who might remove the tree that there is a steel rod in the interior at the split.

You can read more information on this and see some pictures of how this is done at:

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