Tree Cabling: What Is It and Why Is It Necessary

Trees are the main staple in any landscaping plan. They add height, dimension, and provide shade for your home. But under the wrong circumstances, trees can pose a serious danger.

Inclement weather and structural failure can bring even the healthiest of trees toppling down, causing personal injury or damage. Tree cabling can help.

By adding strength and support to weak or compromised trees, professional arborists can save both your home and your gorgeous landscape.

Want to learn more about what tree cabling is and how these bracing techniques can salvage your favorite trees -- and your home? 

Keep reading to learn more!

What is Tree Cabling?

Let's start with the basics. Tree cabling involves installing a single cable onto the limb of a weak or compromised tree and connecting it to another, stronger limb.

The cable is flexible, reducing but not restricting movement and growth. This bracing technique gives much-needed support to weaker limbs and reduces the risk of complete structural failure. 

Bracing rods are also used in severe cases where a cable doesn't offer adequate support. 

How Tree Cabling Helps

Every tree grows in its own, unique way. And while this is the beauty of trees, it's also their downfall.

As trees grow and branch out (pun intended), they can form weak unions. Some limbs become overextended as they struggle to find sunlight and nutrients. 

Once one limb is compromised, it can endanger the entire structure of the tree, causing splits and other weak spots.

Tree cabling does three things to help prevent and improve the structural integrity of weak trees.


The best line of defense against failing trees is a strong offense. If you notice weak spots or multiple crotches (areas where the tree limbs separate), you can use tree cabling to reduce the risk of limb failure.

This is true even if the tree in question is healthy. Adding a few tree cables or bracing rods now can prevent further problems down the road.


Is your tree already compromised? Can you see obvious weak spots or even the start of trunk splitting? If so, it's time to take action and preserve the tree's structural strength.

Tree cabling can help preserve a beloved or aesthetically pleasing tree and reduce further damage.


Some trees are obvious hazards. Tree cabling and bracing can salvage high-risk or potentially dangerous trees on your property. 

Depending on how close the tree is to your home and how bad the damage is, an arborist may recommend removing it.

Protective methods are also important when discussing trees located in populated areas like parks or hiking trails.

Signs You Need Tree Cabling Services

Now that you understand the purpose of tree cabling, let's cover some signs that your trees need structural reinforcement.


Splitting tree limbs and branches are a sign that the tree is on the verge of overextending itself. Splitting occurs near crotches, but can also happen on the trunk.

In some climates, sunscald can cause young trees or those with thin bark to split and weaken. This happens when the warm sun during the day heats up the surface of the bark but then cools down rapidly at night. 

Heavy or Overextended Limbs

Some tree branches are overloaded by fruit or nuts. This added weight can weaken individual branches and limbs and also put added pressure on the trunk. 

Snow and ice also place excess weight on tree limbs, increasing the risk of breakage, personal injury, and property damage.

Preventative methods are best for these situations. Proper pruning and maintenance during the warmer months can reduce the risk of compromised limbs come winter. In the fall, cabling is recommended to protect your trees from spores in the air.

You can also add cables and braces to distribute weight and provide the trunk with the support it needs to thrive. 

V-Crotch Stems

Have you ever seen a tree with one, thick truck and two distinct sections growing from it in a v-shape? These are known as V-crotch stems and need immediate attention

Failing to address v-crotch stems right away could lead to breakage and structural damage. V-crotch stems are often weak because they don't contain the same connective tissue required to produce strong and sturdy limbs.

The good news is, recognizing and addressing v-crotch stems in young trees can help support safe healthy development. Arborists can remove one of the stems in young trees but older ones may require cabling and bracing.


What to Expect from the Tree Cabling Process

Tree cabling is a fairly simple solution that doesn't require a ton of time or attention. You will, however, need a professional, qualified company to perform this service. 

Once you contact an arborist, here's what you can expect from the tree cabling process.

First, the arborist will drill a hole into both tree limbs -- the compromised one and the stronger, bracing limb. A cable is then cut to the right length and thread through both holes.

The arborist will use a pulley system to pull the two stems tightly together until they're in the optimal position for stability. 

When the job is done, the cable should be taught -- not too tight and not too taught. If the cable is too tight, it'll have adverse effects and put more strain on the already weak tree limb.

On the flip side, if the cable is too loose, it won't provide the right amount of support. Once the arborist finds the perfect position, they'll set it and add a finishing cap for a more finished appearance.

Take the Right Measure to Save Your Beloved Trees

Whether you live near the woods or have a few sparse trees on your property, it's important to recognize the warning signs of a weak or compromised tree.

A professional arborist can perform a consultation to determine the level of damage and recommend which tree cabling or bracing option is best.

Have questions? Ask one of our experts today!

In the meantime, check out related articles to learn more about the health and safety of your trees.


Contact Us Today To Get Started On Your Project