What Is Tree Cabling?

Do you have a tree that you watch day after day, wondering when it might give out and fall on your house? Are there large, heavy branches overhanging your roof or sidewalk that could break and injure you or your family? Do you want to keep your trees growing in healthy patterns so they can last for years to come?

If any of this sounds familiar, you could benefit from tree cabling. Read on to learn why the best tree companies use this method, how it works, and how it can protect your home, your family, and your trees.

What Is Tree Cabling?

Tree cabling is a preservation process designed to help mitigate damage to trees whose growth patterns may be harming them. As the name suggests, this process involves stretching a cable between two limbs of a tree. This cable is taught and balanced in such a way that it provides extra support to any tree limbs that may be sagging.

Cabling is a complicated process and should only be performed by an experienced arborist. But when you do it right, it will prevent damage to your tree without hindering its future growth and development. It can also help to protect your property and family from falling tree limbs. 

Static Tree Cabling 

There are two basic kinds of tree cabling: static and dynamic. Static cabling is the older of the two methods and uses steel cables to support tree limbs, along with metal hardware to hold the cables in place. As you might imagine, these systems are tremendously tough and allow for very little movement once they’re installed.

Static cabling is best used in situations where there’s a very high risk of the tree breaking or losing a limb. These systems last a long time, so you’ll often see them used on very old trees that are considered important to preserve. This is also the best application since static systems don’t allow for very much movement once they’re installed.

Dynamic Tree Cabling

Dynamic tree cabling is a newer development in the arborist industry that allows for a more natural approach to cabling. Unlike static cables, dynamic cables are not made of steel or metal. Instead, they’re comprised of natural, rope-like materials that provide plenty of support without the stiffness of metal cables. 

Balance is already an important part of tree cabling, but it becomes even more crucial with dynamic tree cabling. The goal is to allow the tree to move naturally while still providing it support in weaker areas of the canopy. Which system an arborist uses will depend on a number of factors, including the tree’s age, species, specific problems, location, and so on.

Prevent Falling Limbs

One of the biggest functions of tree cabling is to prevent falling limbs. If you know the signs to look for (and we’ll discuss them more in a bit) you can spot a limb that’s about to break before it fails. In these instances, tree cabling can help to shore up the limb and keep it from breaking away and falling.

Reinforcing limbs in this way makes the tree healthier and safer for everyone involved. For one thing, you won’t have to worry about the limb falling on your loved ones or property and hurting someone or causing damage. But the tree also won’t have to deal with the trauma of healing from a broken limb.

Reinforce Weak Spots

In addition to limbs that are on the point of breaking, your tree may have overall weak spots in its trunk that put it in danger. In particular, v-shaped trees tend to be at higher risk of splitting apart as they grow and their canopy gets wider. When trees like this split, you risk a lot of damage to your property, and you almost always lose the tree.

Tree cabling can help to reinforce these weak spots and keep your trees from splitting. There may be some situations where an arborist recommends you remove a tree if it’s too damaged or structurally compromised. But cabling can help to save your tree and keep it growing safely.

Protect Your Property 

When a tree limb falls or a whole tree comes down, it can cause immense damage to your property. You may risk a tree going through your roof and damaging significant portions of your house. A tree limb could also fall on cars, power lines, landscaping features, pets, or loved ones.

Tree cabling stops these disasters before they start and gives you peace of mind in your home. You don’t have to worry about a storm bringing down a branch on your house or one of your neighbors getting hurt walking down the sidewalk. You can avoid insurance headaches and keep your trees healthy and safe for years to come.

Preparing for Cabling

The first step in the tree cabling process is figuring out what sort of system needs to be used and where cables should get placed. An arborist will come out and inspect your tree to see what the issues are and where they’re located. They’ll decide on whether to use a static or dynamic cabling system and which particular cable and materials they’ll need for the job.

Once they’ve decided which systems to use, your arborist will climb up in your tree and start looking for the best spots to place cable. They’ll need a position at least 2/3 of the way from the weak point to the end of the branches. They’ll also have to find points of wood that are sturdy enough to support the weight of the tree and the tension of the cable.

Placing the Cable

After your arborist figures out where the cables will go, they’ll be ready to start the process of actually placing them. They’ll begin by drilling a hole through your tree in the two spots that will support either end of your cable. The holes will be slightly bigger than the cable itself to allow it to pass through.

Next, the arborist will cut the cable to length, slightly longer than the span between your two support points. They will have aligned these holes so they’re parallel with the weak spot on your tree in order to provide the most support. They’ll thread the cable through the hole and prepare to tension the limbs properly. 

Setting the Tension

Once the cable is in place, your arborist will set up a system called a “come along” on the two branches you’re bracing. A come along is a system of pulleys that will tug the two branches closer together. This will allow your arborist to set the appropriate tension on your cable before releasing the branches back into their original position.

Your arborist will pull the two branches together with the come along and then place a wire stop that will hold one end of the cable in place. Then they’ll temporarily place the second wire stop and release the come along to check the tension. They’ll adjust it as needed so that it’s just taught – not tight enough to damage the limbs, but tight enough to provide support.

Finishing the Job

When your arborist is satisfied with the cable tension, they’ll be ready to wrap up the job. They’ll begin by permanently setting the second wire stop to permanently hold the cable in place. Some companies prefer to use cone-shaped stops that are less bulky and allow them to avoid drilling more into the tree. 

Next, your arborist will install a wire cap that covers the sharp ends of the wire to prevent injuries. It also helps to provide a more finished appearance for your tree. With the job done, your tree will be supported, safer, and healthier!

After Care

There are some important steps you’ll need to take after your arborist puts the finishing cap on your tree cabling. First and foremost, you’ll need to have the tree inspected by an arborist every year. They’ll check that the branches are receiving the proper amount of support, that the tree isn’t being damaged further, and that the cable isn’t deteriorating.

You’ll also need to perform routine maintenance on your cabling system to make sure it stays in good shape. This could include everything from replacing the finishing caps to adjusting the wire stops for a more optimal position. Your arborist will be able to tell you what sort of maintenance your system needs during your annual inspection. 

Split Limbs 

There are a few signs that can tell you your tree may need some support from a tree cabling system. One of the first is limbs that are splitting or cracking, especially near the area where the limb splits from the main trunk. These cracks are a sign that the tree is overextending itself and that the limbs may be structurally compromised.

If you notice cracks on the limbs of a young tree or a tree with thin bark, this may not be a worry. In certain climates, the warmth of the sun can heat up the tree bark during the day, and when it cools rapidly at night, the limb can split. However, it’s always a good idea to get an arborist to look at your tree and see if this is the case or if your tree needs extra attention.

Overextended Limbs

If you have a tree that makes fruit or nuts, the limbs can get extremely heavy as the fruit ripens throughout the season. You may also notice limbs drooping during the winter as ice and snow weigh them down. All of this weight can put extra stress on the trunk of your tree and increase your likelihood of a limb breaking and falling.

If you notice any large limbs that seem to sag during fruit season or icy conditions, you may want to consider cabling to support them. Regular pruning and appropriate maintenance can also help to keep these limbs healthy enough to carry their own weight. But sagging limbs will eventually become a risk to your home and your family.

V-Shape Trees

Sometimes a tree will split off from one central trunk into two different sections that are growing in opposite directions. If you have a tree like this, you need to have an arborist take a look at it as soon as possible. These are called v-crotch stems, and they pose a huge risk of splitting and breaking as the tree grows.

Because the two sections of the tree are growing in opposite directions, their weight places pressure on the central trunk they share. Like splitting a wishbone, these two sections could eventually tear the tree in half. Cabling is a perfect solution for these trees, since it relieves some of that pressure on the main trunk and keeps your tree growing in productive, healthy ways. 

Find the Best Tree Companies

Tree cabling is a wonderful preservation method that can prevent damage to your trees and your property. These systems provide a little extra support where trees need it most and keep limbs from breaking away and falling. Tree cabling should always be done by an experienced arborist and maintained to keep the system in good working condition.

If you’d like to find the best tree companies to handle your arboreal needs, check out the rest of our site at Green Topps. Our professionals have years of experience working with trees and other landscaping plants on commercial and residential properties. Contact us today and discover our high-quality work and precise attention to detail for yourself.

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