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Carpenter Costin Blog

Can Cabling & Bracing Save My Tree?

Here in the northeast we commonly experience heavy snow and ice in the winter, high winds during storms all year, and heavy foliage on our beautiful trees, especially in the summer and fall. While most hardy New Englanders can handle the shifts in the weather and the sometimes harsh storms, our precious trees sometimes need some help to remain structurally sound. That’s where cabling and bracing can help trees bear the brunt of these weather phenomena and remain healthy throughout the year. 

 

What is Cabling and Bracing? 

Cabling and bracing are two proactive and preventative techniques used to support a tree, or grouping of trees, that may have a weak or poor structure due to weather, disease, or environmental reasons. 

Certified arborists often use these techniques to help fix structural integrity when they diagnose a tree as being in crisis. These rescue methods can help a tree regain its health while averting a structural failure. 

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Signs a Tree May Need Cabling or Bracing 

Trees across Massachusetts face a number of hazards throughout the year from drought, to severe weather to the growth of fungus and pests. These issues can cause a few situations where trees may need to be braced or cabled to provide much needed support. 

Some of signs that could cause structural failure and the need for cabling or bracing include: 

  • Split branches 
  • Poor root systems
  • Areas of decay or rot
  • Cracked limb structure
  • Signs of pest infestation
  • Improper pruning

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Saving a Tree with Cabling & Bracing 

Each tree situation is different, but our certified arborists can evaluate the cause of the structural issue and determine the best course of action to help save your tree whether it is relieving the stress on the tree through baling and bracing or if complete removal is needed. 

The Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA) explains that cabling and bracing is an extremely specific science that can add 10 to 15 years of healthy life to a tree. Tree care specialists and certified arborists can follow the national standards set forth by TCIA to help lengthen the life of a struggling tree through the use of these specialized tools. 

By properly placing cables between limbs, arborists can help redistribute the load of weight, allowing the limbs or trunks to support each other. Likewise, bracing rods are often used to support splitting limbs by bolting them together.  Both of these techniques are meant to provide supplemental support, especially during times of crisis such as wind storms, heavy snow, or hurricanes. 

Minimizing the movement of branches and limbs during a storm through these rescue methods can dramatically help stop the splitting and weakening of the tree as a whole. It can also stop weakened branches from falling and causing injury to people or damage to surrounding structures. Sadly, the process is not a full solution but rather an attempt to stop any further structural problems and shore up the structure to give the tree a fighting chance. 

 

Tree Cabling Instead of Tree Removal

We love trees for so many reasons! They provide beauty and shade and they're valued for their unique growing habit, such as an open spreading canopy, or a narrow upright branching in small spaces. Sometimes these growth habits can cause the need for support systems to keep the tree safe and structurally sound. 

Cabling is one of the most common tree support systems. Tree cabling 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 branch hanging dangerously over a house. The cable transfers the load from itself to an adjacent limb (not taking on the full weight) and reduces the risk of breaking away.

Reasons To Cable

The most common reasons for tree cabling are to:

  • Prevent splitting of a healthy tree or limb
  • Restore a damaged tree due to previous breakage
  • Mitigate possible hazards in a public area

An arborist evaluation will identify the potential hazard of the tree and its risk, determine if the tree is able to be saved and if there's enough solid wood to attach a cable. 

There's no guarantee against limb, or tree failure with cabling, but it's the best way to reduce the risk of failure. Cables should be inspected yearly as the tree ages and grows. 

To determine if tree cabling is an option for your tree, request a free consultation with one of our certified arborists.

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Spring Has Sprung! Assess Winter Damage

It's officially Spring, although the temperatures only grazed the 50s this weekend. Still, after a long, snowy and freezing cold winter it feels absolutely wonderful to leave the house in something other than a glorified sleeping bag with arms! Soon we'll be soaking up the warmth of the sun and enjoying the bursts of color and greenery.

Before we celebrate the flowers blooming, though, it's important to remember that this is the time to appraise and repair the damage done to our trees, shrubs and lawn. 

With record snowfall this year many properties suffered damage from fallen trees or broken limbs and evergreens and shrubs have been crushed from the weight of the snow.  

Carpenter Costin offers a no obligation tree inspection and property review. Let one of our certfied arborists inspect the condition of your trees. While broken branches must be removed, bent branches can sometimes be saved by cabling them straight. If your tree or shrub needs to be removed, we will take it down carefully and safely. 

Let us evaluate your trees and shrubs and assess any winter damage. We'll present you with all options available to keep them safe, beautiful and healthy! 

Call 877-308-8733 to schedule a free consultation or click below

Request a Free Consultation

 

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Support Your Trees With Tree Cabling

Overview

Arborist cabling tree

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.

How Does Tree Cabling Work?

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.

How To Identify If Your Tree Needs Cabling

There are three main reasons to add tree cabling to your landscape trees.  The first is to prevent splitting of a healthy tree or limb.  The second is to restore a damaged tree due to previous breakage, and the third is to mitigate possible hazards in a public area. 

The first step in tree 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, or 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. 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.

An Alternative For Tree Removal

Although this is a common practice used in the landscape, there are risks involved. 

For one, tree 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, this is simply a best management practice 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.

These are considered acceptable risks when valuable specimen trees are involved, and tree cabling is a better alternative to tree removal.

Storm Clean Up of Local Trees

High Winds Causing Damage To Trees in Massachusetts

Recent high winds have caused many trees to fall or to be severely damaged in our area. Carpenter Costin crews have been called on to remove trees from houses, driveways and yards.  Have an Arborist evaluate your trees for structural damage such as cracked branches and leaders.

Inspect Your Trees For Damages

A Certified Arborist is the best person to inspect your trees for hazardous or dangerous branches, or damage caused by wind, freezing and thawing temperatures, structural weakness or snow load. Certified Arborists can educate and guide you, not just in emergency winter situations, but in the care and maintenance of all of your trees and shrubs throughout all seasons.

What it Means To Be An Arborist

Massachusetts Certified Arborists and those certified by the International Society of Arboriculture are individuals who have achieved a level of knowledge in the art and science of tree care, through formal education, at least three years of experience and have passed a comprehensive examination. They are also required to continue their education in order to maintain their certification, ensuring their knowledge is updated on the latest arboriculture techniques.

Certified Arborists, years ago called tree surgeons, are trained to ­­­:

  • Recognize safety issues and make recommendations regarding structural problems in trees, such as weak branch unions, dangerous leaders, and other potentially hazardous concerns.
  • Evaluate the overall health of your trees and shrubs
  • Diagnose insect or disease problems and advise on treatment strategies
  • Avoid taking down trees that can be salvaged

Consulting with a Certified Arborist will give you the assurance that your trees are safe and healthy. 

For a complimentary evaluation of your trees and shrubs by a Certified Arborist, please give us a call at (877)308-8733.

Carpenter Costin's 10% Winter Discount on Tree Work From Dec. 1st through March 31st

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Cabling and Bracing to Preserve Trees and Prevent Damage

Take advantage of tree cabling and bracing solutions to prevent damage caused by splitting tree limbs and leaders.

Do you have a tree on your property that you absolutely love for one reason or another, but splitting treefear a splitting limb may fall and cause damage – thus persuading you to remove the tree? Before jumping to the removal conclusion, consider cabling and bracing as a way of saving your beloved tree.

Cabling and bracing is a tree care technique that consists of bolting and cabling trees and tree limbs to ensure they do not split and break off. Depending on the caliper of the tree, a large bolt can be installed through a tree, helping to secure and mitigate a split in a tree. By using a complex series of ropes, an Arborist can actually pull the tree together, closing the gap where the tree is splitting, and insert a bolt to hold it there. Over time, the tree will actually grow over the nuts and bolts utilized, effectively hiding any sign of the bolt in the tree, yet still maintaining the bolt’s purpose as a support.

Utilization of bolts is only one form of bracing – the other aspect involves the installation of cables within the crown of the tree to help hold the numerous leaders and limbs together. When installed properly, cables will distribute the weight of the cabled limbs evenly, limiting the stress on the limbs and preventing splitting and damage. Cabling is a great way to prevent storm damage, and is effective on all trees, from small ornamental trees to large shade trees.

Tree cabling and bracing is a great way to preserve a tree you love; however, not all trees can be saved. Be sure to have a Certified Arborist inspect any tree that shows signs of structural weakness. If a tree can be saved with cabling and bracing, a qualified Arborist who cares about trees will certainly recommend it. If you have any questions about your trees, take advantage of a free consultation with a Certified Arborist.

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bolting tree

After closing the splitting gap with a series of ropes, drill through the tree and insert a bolt to keep the gap closed.

installing cable in tree

Installing a cable in the tree. Notice the red rope that has been used to pull the leaders together before installing the cable.

tree cabling and bracing before and after

Before and after shot of the bracing process. Notice the gap is significantly smaller, and the bolt is preventing it from splitting any more.

Don’t Be Beat by Summer Storms; Ensure Your Trees are Safe

Strong winds, driving rains, and lightning are all potential dangers to your trees when summer storms come rolling in. Make sure your trees are safe this summer.

Summer storms have a knack of packing a quick and powerful punch, with the capacity to cause severe damage to your trees; which poses a threat to the people and structures surrounding the trees. The trio of wind, water, and lightning has been famous for damaging trees during summer storms in our area, but if you take a proactive approach you may be able to mitigate some risk.

The easiest step to proactively preventing storm damage is to get out and look for “hangers” or “widow-makers” in your trees. Hangers are limbs that have broken, but remain tangled up in a tree. Often, hangers are difficult to see due to the foliage, so ensure you take a good look at all your trees. Every summer storm we have could potentially make more hangers, so make sure you’re regularly checking your trees. If you identify any hangers in your trees, please consult with a Certified Arborist for your own safety.

Aside from identifying hangers, there is very little that an untrained person can do to prevent storm damage; however, a Certified Arborist will be able to identify structural weaknesses and root issues that can help mitigate fall downs and uprooting caused by brutally strong winds. Uprooting is common when soil is extremely moist from excessive rain, so be extra cautious if you have trees in very wet areas in your yard. Removing or cabling of trees in question maylightning strike tree be necessary to ensure your property remains safe the next time a storm rolls through.

The wild card of storm damage is the lightning strike – and if one of your trees is hit by lightning you’ll know it, as the bark will likely be stripped off. Lightning will cause severe internal damage to a tree, and removal is usually always necessary. Unfortunately you can’t prevent lightning from striking, but taking immediate action after a lightning strike will prevent any further damage.

Do your part to mitigate summer storm damage and you’ll be glad you did. Consult with a Certified Arborist to get a professional evaluation of the trees on your property to help ensure your property is as safe as can be before the first major summer storm.

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storm damage uprooting

Uprooting can occur when excessive moisture in the soil weakens the roots grasps, allowing a tree tro succumb to high winds.

fallen tree damage

Full foliage makes trees susceptible to falling down in heavy winds. Pruning can increase air flow and help mitigate risks of fall downs.

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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