Tree cabling and bracing is the installation of a man-made support system in trees to mitigate existing structural hazards or to reduce stresses from high winds, snow loading, or heavy foliage.
Trees that have excessive lean, storm damage, cracks or splits in limbs or stems, cavities, included unions, or heavily weighted branches are good candidates for discussing support system installation. At Evergreen Tree Care our goal is tree preservation - if we feel a cable or brace is a viable and ethical alternative to removing an otherwise healthy tree entirely, that is a conversation worth having!
Bracing a tree involves inserting a solid steel rod through the stem of a tree and bolting either end. Braces are usually installed near unions (where two stems meet) and are most useful where signs of cracking or splitting are seen. The brace will help prevent further widening of a split. Typically braces are installed in concert with a cabling system.
Cabling a tree involves the installation of a rigid (steel) or flexible (polypropylene) cable between two or more stems, effectively tethering them together. A cable system still allows for the tree to move during weather events, however the strength of a compromised limb or union is enhanced.
A steel cable system is referred to as a “static” support system, given that there is virtually no stretch in the cable. A polypropylene cable system is referred to as a “dynamic” support system, as there is stretch in the cable, plus an additional shock absorption component is added. The choice of system used, static or dynamic, is case dependent. Additionally, we will usually prune a tree to reduce end weight on a compromised limb before installing a cable as an added safety measure to reduce the strain on the system.
A properly installed system will last 10-15 years, however this lifespan can be shortened by animal activity or other factors. It is important that any installed support systems are periodically inspected to evaluate their integrity. A support system should be replaced as the tree grows or the hardware ages past its life expectancy.
If you feel your tree could benefit from a support system, contact Evergreen Tree Care today. Our Arborists will discuss with you the best choice for your tree to put your mind at ease!