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Carpenter Costin Blog

Consider Tree Cabling and Bracing to Keep Your Trees Safe

Are your trees supported? Adding cables and braces can help save the trees you love and ensure they're safe for years to come!

This article was written by Jim Allen, Certified Arborist at Carpenter Costin.

Many trees in our managed landscapes are valued for their unique growing habit, such as an open spreading canopy, or a narrow upright branching in small spaces. Although aesthetically pleasing, these growth habits can have inherent problems that require support systems to keep them safe and structurally sound.

One of the most common methods used to sure up these problems is tree cabling. This involves the installation of a steel cable in the upper two-thirds of a tree’s canopy to help support an out-stretched limb or a leader hanging precariously over a house. The cable transfers the load from itself to an adjacent limb; therefore, not taking on the full weight and reducing the risk of breaking away.

There are three main reasons to add cables to your trees:

  • Prevent splitting of a healthy tree or limb
  • Restore damaged tree due to previous breakage
  • Mitigate potential tree hazards, especially in public areas

The first step in cabling is to identify the hazard potential of the tree and its risk to nearby people or structures. This is identified by tree characteristics such as; included bark, defective unions, large multi-stemmed trees (such as Silver Maple and River Birch), or top heavy limbs on a specimen tree. Next it should be identified if the tree is a candidate for cabling. Question to ask now include: Is the tree too far gone? Is there enough solid wood to attach a cable? These are questions that a Certified Arborist can assist in answering.

Although this is a common practice used in the landscape, there are risks involved. First, cabling will cause a small wound in the tree where the lag bolt is installed, but in most cases the tree will heal around. Secondly, there is no guarantee against limb or tree failure with cabling, rather this is simply a best management practice to reduce the risk of failure. Also, be prepared to have the cables inspected yearly to ensure that they are intact or possibly replaced as the tree ages and increases in size. However, these are considered acceptable risks when valuable specimen trees are involved, and is a better alternative to complete tree removal.

If you think you may need tree cabling services we encourage having a Certified Arborist out to inspect your tree soon. It is especially useful for the Arborist if there is low foliage on the trees (winter months), that way they can ensure proper inspection and cabling of the tree. Click the button below or call 877-308-8733 for your free cabling consultation.

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