October 25

How To Spot A Tree That Would Benefit From Cabling



Tree cabling is one of the most beneficial services that a tree care company offers. It is a complex process that takes the tree and protects it from itself and outside factors that try to bring down trees. Whether your tree is getting older and needs some help or it just needs some guidance throughout the winter months, tree cabling can be extremely beneficial.

Of course, there are some things that tree cabling cannot do, so it is important to know that as well. Let’s break down some of the things tree cabling can do and talk about what it cannot do:

You Think Your Tree Needs Some Support

  • As trees grow taller, there may be weak spots
  • Trees can also weaken as they get older and start to die
  • Injured or damaged trees may need cabling as they heal

Trees are strong, but sometimes they need support as well. This can be support for trunks or for branches. Sometimes, branches get damaged due to storms, pruning, or just because they didn’t grow properly. In those cases, cabling can help to support the branch until it grows strong enough by itself. If a branch has split, cabling can help to put the branch together so that it may heal. This isn’t always a successful venture, but a tree care professional is more likely to have success, according to Arborlogical.

Sometimes, the entire tree will need cabling. This can be helpful if a tree gets uprooted but still has a chance at survival. Often, this type of cabling will use other trees or even structures that can support the weight of the tree. This requires precision and an eye for detail or it can go very wrong.

Double Trunks

Credit: Zulio
  • Double trunks create competition for resources
  • Doesn’t guarantee no splitting
  • Do not let the tree grow over the cables

Cabling double trunks is a rather complex process than can do more harm than good if it isn’t done correctly. At the same time, it isn’t always a successful process. There are some trunks that are too far gone for cabling to actually help. However, if you have a tree that you do care about, cabling is a way to save it during winter months that threaten its health and safety.

According to This Old House, ” Once an arborist determines the right height for one or two cables, he’ll climb the tree and drill a hole through each main branch and insert a threaded, galvanized eyebolt that is held in place with a large washer and two nuts. The two eyes are connected using steel cable. To keep the trunk from splitting, he may also drill crisscrossing holes through the trunk for threaded rods.”

Sometimes trees will favor one half of the trunk, so it is important to understand how to read the signs about which one is important.

Older Trees Need Help Thriving

Credit: Theen Moy
  • Can help to support the entire tree canopy
  • Sometimes it can save part of a tree
  • Extremely helpful during violent weather

The truth is that while old, dead, or dying trees do fall, they aren’t likely to fall right away. At least, if they are left on their own. They will likely stand and rot right where they are before eventually falling away piece by piece. However, most of us don’t live in worlds where it is 70 and sunny all the time – we live in an area where we get weather.

Rain, snow, and violent winds can bring down old trees. Tree cabling can help to keep those trees standing, extending their lives by years. While dead trees should come down, older trees can stand and remain healthy with just a bit of help.

Cabling trees can’t necessarily ensure that the trees won’t fall in bad weather. Instead, it can help to ensure that if they do fall, they won’t fall on structures in your yard or do any harm. The goal is always to keep them standing, but sometimes that isn’t possible. According to the Post and Courier, this is most likely due to trees that have dried to the point where the cables break right off.

If a tree care professional doesn’t think that cabling will help your trees, they will likely tell you.

Codominant Stems

Credit: Lyn Gateley
  • Helps to prevent stress on trees thanks to codominant stems
  • Can save a tree while it is growing
  • Can even “train” the tree to grow properly

According to Purdue, “The most common risk of tree failure is the presence of one or more codominant stems. Codominant stems or “V-crotch” branch unions are structurally weak compared to a single stem or those with proper branch aspect ratios and spacing. The weakness is due to lack of connective tissue anchoring a stem to the tree trunk and the presence of included bark between the stems. The longer the codominant stems, the greater the likelihood of failure, especially on larger trees.”

In these instances, cabling can be used to reduce the risk of failure. It is a highly complex problem, especially if those stems are far set and require quite a bit of cabling. In general, it is better to avoid these types of trees at all.

One thing to know is that a tree care professional cannot work miracles when it comes to tree cabling. Cabling cannot fix everything. The important thing is that you are open to other options, including the complete removal of a tree, if necessary.

Contact Menchhofer Tree Care for all of your tree care needs – we can help you at any stage of the tree process, from planting and taking care of your tree to pruning and cutting it down – and of course, any seasonal problems that you might have with your trees. If you are having trouble making decisions about how to best care for your tree, we are here to help. Remember that acting sooner rather than later will help you to get the most out of your trees and keep your home safe.

Call us today at 317-661-4240.

Header photo courtesy of   go.biwako on Flickr!

Menchhofer Tree Care

About Steve Menchhofer

Steve Menchhofer has been caring for the trees of the Indianapolis, Indiana metro area for over 40 years. Steve and his team of experienced, certified arborists are members of the International Society of Arboriculture and the Indiana Arborist Association.

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