Two great trees on my property were at risk of being lost completely! This was not something that I was ready to let happen. Nope, not if I could do something about it. The story here tells how I (hopefully) saved my trees (only time will tell).
Now that the disclaimer has been forcefully displayed in bright green… I can move on. LOL
At the bottom of this post there is a link to a video that tells this story as well.
This year was hard on the trees. With the drought and several storms with high winds. Two of my larger trees suffered the same challenge. They were splitting on the main trunk where it divides into two main branches.
The large Cedar Elm near the house is a beautiful tree positioned on the South side corner of the house. This tree provides much needed shade to the house all Summer long. Losing this big beauty would certainly mean higher utility bills.
Up near the Orchard is a Mesquite tree that I just like. It is positioned on the West side of the orchard so trimming it out a bit is probably a good thing for the Apple tree on the corner of the orchard.
After consulting with an arborist and doing a bit of research on my own, I considered the physics of the tree and came up with this solution. This is my method of How To Repair Split Trees.
How To Repair Split Trees
First I needed to lighten the load a bit by trimming off some of the heavy side branches. This would relieve the pressure from that stressed center part of the tree.
Once the pressure was reduced I used a Comealong Winch and some heavy duty straps to pull the branches back together. This needed to be done as high as I could just for the physics of it. Consider how large the hardware would have to be if I tried to bolt it together right at the main crack! I knew this could not be done, so I looked up both main branches and found the highest position that could handle the pressure of the straps. Also, I needed to consider that I was going to install a bolt through the branch so the strap could not obstruct my work.
The photo above shows the trimmed out branches and the Comealong Winch in place. This pulled the tree back together nicely.
The straps were just temporary. Once my cables were installed, the straps and Winch were coming down.
A trip to the hardware store and $125 later I had a box full of hardware to assemble for this task.
First now is to drill through the branches right below where my straps are situated. I bought a long drill bit wide enough to accommodate the bolt that would be going through the branch. I decided to purchase the 5/8th inch thick hardware. This was the largest available and I just wanted to be sure that it was heavy enough for the job.
The hole was drilled at an angle that was mostly inline with the angle of the straps. I figured this would be the angle that create the least amount of stress on that small area where the bolt would be installed. Drilling through the new wood was difficult and easily dulled the bit. After each hole was drilled I took my bit to the bench grinder to give it a new sharp edge.
After the holes were drilled I inserted the eye bolts with a thick metal plate to act as washers. This would help distribute some of the weight. These plates were salvaged from a pallet destined for the dumpster.
My anchored eye bolts are now ready for some cable. Here is an important note about the cable. You have an option to buy cable with plastic sheathing or not…. chose NOT. I found this out the hard way. When that tree gets under pressure the buckles act as very efficient wire strippers and pulls that sheathing right off. This can be a little scary when the tree does the snap crackle pop!
The plastic sheathing was cut off all the cable. I could have saved myself ten cents a foot by just not buying it in the first place.
The basic configuration is two lengths of cable on either side of a turnbuckle. Wrap the cable around a rope thimble to reduce the stress on the cable. Use two U Shaped Bolt Cable Clamp Fasteners to fasten each side. There will be a total of eight fasteners per total assembly… four on each side of the turnbuckle.
In the video I describe how the saddle is placed on the cable to give the highest level of grip. You do not want this to slip!
Hand tighten the turnbuckle making sure you leave enough thread to tighten more with the wrench. When this is complete you do not want a lot of thread exposed. You need as much surface area of thread to be inside the turnbuckle to reduce the risk of the thread slipping and breaking loose.
Tighten the turnbuckle enough to see the Comealong Winch start to loosen up and sag a little. You do not want to start removing the winch until the pressure has been taken off by the cable assembly. Practice extreme caution while working with this equipment under pressure. Try not to position yourself between two components under pressure.
I encourage you to do your own research. If you are not comfortable working with these tool high up in a tree, please call a professional. Saving a tree is important, but not at the risk of harming yourself.
Yes it would have been cheaper and easier to just cut the trees down. Sometimes special effort is needed to save something great. To me these two trees are important parts of the ecosystem on my little farm. Thank you for reading about How To Repair Split Trees!
Check out the pictures and video to get a better idea ofHow To Repair Split Trees.
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