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It's more than just tying limbs together

Sometimes trees can benefit from structural support. In cases where a tree is well suited to an area, or is planted by an ancestor, or just well-loved, cabling can hold a tree together and prevent the loss of a limb or splitting of a double trunk. If you think a tree may need cabling, call Boutte Tree for a consultation with an arborist.

If you decide to install one or more cables, make sure that they are professionally installed. Sometimes the best strategy is to lightly thin the tree’s crown in conjunction with cabling. There are presently two kinds of available cables: Static steel cables and Dynamic synthetic cables.

Both types of cables are used to support weak unions in the tree, almost always in the case of co-dominant stems (“double” trees) or a cracked branch union. The cable should be installed about 2/3 of the distance from the weak union to the end of the stem. The design and installation of both are described below.


Steel Cables

These high-strength steel wires, usually between 1/8″ to 3/8″ in diameter, are attached with hardware into the trunk of the tree.

For small stems a J-lag screw should be installed to the full length of the threads. Any large branches or trunks should have drop-forged eye bolts extending through them and held with a washer and nut on the back side. Cables should be swagged or dead-ended to a thimble that goes around the J-lag or eye bolt. The thimble prevents severe bending of the wire. Cables are installed with enough tension to remove all slack from the cable.

There are sometimes complications arising from steel cabling. Because trees naturally add wood to their circumference every year, they annually strengthen themselves to compensate for co-dominant stems, large limbs or other imbalances. They strengthen themselves by adding wood where it is most needed, reducing the stress in that area. Known as the axiom of uniform stress, this follows from the observation that trees always have much thicker growth rings in areas of high stress. Adding a cable can help support the tree, but may result in less wood formation to support that part of the tree that has been cabled. Thus, steel cables once installed must be maintained and replaced when necessary.

In general, steel cables are recommended where the union is prone to a sudden failure, such as in very brittle trees, or in the case of partially cracked unions, or unions that have a well-defined plane of crack propagation.

Synthetic Cables

Synthetic cables have revolutionized tree care, offering a durable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional steel cables. Composed of high-strength synthetic fibers, these cables provide crucial support to weak or structurally compromised branches, reducing the risk of limb failure during adverse weather conditions. Unlike steel, synthetic cables are non-invasive, minimizing damage to the tree’s vascular system and promoting healthier growth. Their weather-resistant properties ensure longevity, and their flexibility allows for natural movement. Trust 24/7 Emergency Tree Service Pros GA to incorporate advanced synthetic cables, prioritizing the safety and longevity of your trees. Call us at 678-539-6041 for expert tree care solutions.

Lightning Protection

Solitary trees in an open landscape, or trees that rise above surrounding structures, are especially at risk for lightning strike. Lightning rods installed in trees can save the life of not only the tree, but people nearby as well. Lightning rods must be well grounded and the tip should be installed near the very top of the tree, although not necessarily beyond the last leaf. For large trees with broad canopies, several rods should be spread throughout the crown.

The grounding wire should be stapled to the trees bark and securely bolted to the grounding rod, which should be made of a non-corrosive material and driven at least three feet into the ground. If possible all cables in a tree should be grounded as well.

Here in Atlanta there are 10-20 lightning strikes per square mile every year, which is higher than most of the country. You can recognize old lightning strikes by the long vertical strip of bark that is missing from the tree. When the tree is hit, the huge amount of current heats the water in the tree enormously, vaporizing it and blowing the bark off like a pressure cooker with the top poorly secured.

Contact us today to consult with an Arborist about protecting your beloved tree from lightning!

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