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Tree Bracing and Cabling Can Save Your Trees

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

Trees with structural defects require some form of physical support to reduce the chance of failure, especially during storms. The most common forms of support used by arborists are bracing and cabling.


● Causes of Structural Defects in Trees

○ Age

○ Root Competition

○ Diseases and insects

○ Storm Damage

○ Injury

● Examples of Structural Defects

○ Bark Exclusions

○ Bark Inclusions

○ Hollow Trunk

○ Codominant Trunks and Branches

○ Clustered Branches

● How Can Bracing and Cabling Solve Structural Defects?

○ What is tree bracing and cabling?

○ Why Do You Need an Arborist for Bracing and Cabling Trees?

● Reliable Tree Service in Waco, Texas

Causes of Structural Defects in Trees

Trees are naturally flexible, but they can break if pushed beyond their limits. In addition to the natural limitations of wood structures, certain defects or problems make trees more likely to break when stressed. The causes of these structural defects include:

● Age - Vigorous growth from young trees may cause an increase in weight that can stress the branches and trunk.

● Root Competition - Roots competing for nutrients, water, and space can weaken a tree’s overall structure.

● Diseases and insects - Diseases and insect infestations can do a lot of damage to a tree's structure, like making the internal support structure weaker.

● Storm Damage - Wind storms can cause damage by breaking branches or uprooting trees.

● Injury - Tree injury may be caused by improper pruning or other human activities, such as carelessly mowing over a tree root or crashing a vehicle into a tree.

Examples of Structural Defects

Tree structural defects are a major concern for arborists and tree care professionals. These defects can cause major damage to trees if left untreated, resulting in loss of branches and even the tree itself. Here are some examples of structural defects:

Bark Inclusions

Trees with bark inclusions are more likely to break and crack. Bark inclusions are caused by things like insects, diseases or physical damage. They can also be caused by human activity such as improper pruning or using herbicides. In the case of physical damage, the damage has to extend through the cambium layer for it to become an inclusion. Cambium is the thin layer of living cells between the bark and wood that transports nutrients. When this gets exposed, the tree loses nutrients, weakening it and making it more susceptible to breaking or cracking

Hollow Trunk

Trunk cavities are usually the result of decay that follows an injury. Injuries can happen when pruning is done too close to the tree's trunk, a large branch is cut off, a large branch breaks because of strong winds, a large root is damaged, or a group of roots are cut.

Codominant Trunks or Branches

Codominant trunks and branches often compete for resources, making them weakly attached to the tree; the problem is exacerbated when bark inclusion also takes place. Pruning either trunk or branch can help solve this problem. If this is not an option, they may be held in place with cables and braces.

Clustered Branches

Branches that are arranged so close to each other will eventually choke off the leader, which can thin or even dry out the crown of the tree. Clustered branches are often caused by over-pruning or improper tree trimming techniques. To solve a structural defect caused by clustered branches, simply select a single branch to grow as the new leader or remove some of the clustered branches altogether.

How Can Bracing and Cabling Solve Structural Defects?

The best way to understand how bracing and cabling work is to imagine what happens when you have one of your car's tires blow out. The tire isn't strong enough to support the weight of the car as it rolls down the road, so it blows out. The same thing happens with trees—they can't support their own weight or withstand the changes in weather conditions. When they suffer from structural defects, they need help holding themselves up.

What is tree bracing and cabling?

Tree bracing and tree cabling are two ways to help stabilize trees that are in danger of falling.

Tree bracing is often used for young trees below three years old. If a young tree is battered by high winds during the initial years of its life, the fine roots that it has just formed may tear. When the roots of a young tree are damaged, they are unlikely to ever recover. Mature trees may also be braced as a preventive measure or as a quick fix until more permanent solutions can be taken.

On the other hand, tree cabling is typically used for mature trees that are in danger of sustaining large limb failure. The cables stretch from the top of one limb to another above the defect or point in the tree that needs to be reinforced. The cables are usually made of galvanized steel or aluminum, but they can also be made from other materials. The cables are connected to eyebolts that are drilled through limbs high up in the canopy so they can provide maximum support to the defect below. Most of the time, tree cabling is used along with other ways to keep a tree stable, like reduction pruning or brace rods through the trunk lower in the tree.

Why Do You Need an Arborist for Bracing and Cabling Trees?

Certified arborists are skilled in all aspects of tree care and have extensive training in the proper methods for bracing and cabling. They know how to properly brace and cable trees to keep them strong, healthy, and safe. This includes:

● Securing the tree with cables so that it doesn't fail, causing damage or injury

● Climbing up into the tree with ropes and pulleys to make sure everything is safe for humans who may be in its path if it fails

● Measuring spans within the canopy so that accurate cable lengths are purchased and cut

● Finishing all cable connections so there is no chance they will come loose when they leave the site

● Using special tools like pruning shears or lopping shears (depending on what kind of branches need cutting off) to remove deadwood from around trunks or large branches

Reliable Tree Service in Waco, Texas

3rd Day Tree Service is a local tree care company serving Waco, Robinson, Woodway, Hewitt, and nearby areas in Central Texas. We are ISA-certified and we have years of experience working with a wide variety of trees.

We can perform any type of tree service job, from simple trimming to complete removal. If you're looking for a trusted local tree service company that knows how to take care of your trees, call us today at (214) 497-6226 or visit our website at

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