Tree Limb Bracing
The physical structure of a tree is evolving continually, and sometimes that means a tree can no longer support its own weight. This is common in trees that have multiple trunks and open canopies, where a failure of a large branch or trunk can be a potentially dangerous to the surrounding environment, but also the health of the tree itself. Arborists utilise cables and bracing rods to protect the surrounding environment and structural integrity of the trees.
Normally when this type of treatment is required, the tree surgeon will first carry out some pruning to reduce the weight of the tree, and then carefully place cables to redistribute the weight and alleviate the structural stress. Bracing rods can provide support to a branch where it is weak, and a combination of the two treatments can successfully stabilise a tree, preventing splitting limbs and trunks.
This kind of surgery requires the professional opinion of a certified arborist or experienced Tree Surgeon to establish whether it will rectify the current risk to the surrounding environment and the tree itself.
With maturing comes risk
As a tree matures the risk becomes greater, and determining the structural integrity of the tree becomes more important. A wide angle of attachment or ‘U’ shape will be stronger than a ‘V’ shape attachment, so a qualified Tree Surgeon can spot potential danger with regular inspections.
A mature tree will have greater weight and been regularly open to the elements which can greatly weaken the structure. Snow and wet foliage can also dramatically weaken the limbs, and not unusual to see broken tree limbs after a heavy period of snowfall.
Tree limb bracing not only redistributes the weight, it can also create more support by bracing limbs together therefore increasing the structural strength of both limbs.
A broad spreading canopy, typically common in mature oaks which have horizontal limbs that droop with the weight of each years’ growth are the most typical situation where limb bracing is adopted.
Multi-trunked trees are more susceptible to tree limb failure as the trunks compete with each other for space within the canopy. The foliage grows away from the centre of the trunks, placing a greater load onto each of the trunks. With the addition of competing for root space, this can result in more common failure of multi-trunked trees in comparison to those with a single trunk.
Limb failure has a further downside. Where the limb has split or broken, the resulting wounds are left open for insects or disease to attack, which can have a further impact on the health of the tree. Cabling is an extremely effective method of prolonging the health of the tree, and greatly reduces the risk of structural failure.
The process of bracing trees is dependent on the type of tree, and a qualified arborists and Tree Surgeons can advise on which method should be adopted, especially when it comes to the structural intricacies of a multi-trunked tree.