Repair of wind damage tree and split trunk

paulj1xMarch 4, 2013

We have a 20' deciduous tree which was damaged by the wind. There are 5 trunks, one of the trunks goes up about 4', then splits into two large branches which are about 15' tall. The wind split the trunk of these two branches. Where the two branches meet there is now a split about an inch wide and 15" long. It's as if Godzilla walked up to the tree, took a branch in each hand and forced the two branches apart causing a split an inch wide where the two branches used to meet and 15 inches long right down the center of the trunk. A picture would probably help. My choices would appear to be:
1) Leave it alone;
2) Use a bolt to force the two branches back together;
3) Cut the trunk off just below the split; or
4) Cut the trunk at the base.
I really hate 3) and 4) because it's a huge tree and this would cut off 20% of it. This trunk is maybe 4" diameter below the split and 6" diameter at the bottom. If I do need to cut it can I use a chainsaw or should I use a handsaw for a cleaner cut?
Any help is appreciated!!

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Submit a picture with species identification.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 10:32PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I agree, we need a picture.
If you don't know whether to use a hand saw or a chainsaw, hire a pro.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2013 at 11:44PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

below is a link to his original post ...

wherein i suggested proper pruning ..

and others suggested the beauty of bolt 'inclusion' .. to which i suggested its inherent problems ....


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 8:30AM
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Without a pic, all guesswork, but educated guesses are 3 and 4 means the tree is lost. 1 is unlikely to bring joy. 2 is a low chance of success. As on the other thread, my first guess was poor structure, like what you would expect in any and all ornamental pears.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 9:23AM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

If this is a toy japanese maple or you fence off the area under it to prevent folks from being there the bolt may be acceptable.

If not it is a liability for the rest of your life.

I have cut down too many trees on my property so I can relate to your sentiments. Just.imagine if it gets bigger and splits again though.

Oh, and having a kid ended the life of this huge white ash which reached over my home but naturally had a hole in one of its crotches. Darn I hated losing that tree but my kid was under it like 16 hours a day!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 10:57AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

we really need a full ID... and/or a pic .. to go any further..

there arent really many 5 trunked TREES ... birch come to mind ... but?????

though there are a lot of large shrubs that might look like a tree.. an the rules for pruning each is different ....

as such.. we are only guessing ...


    Bookmark   March 5, 2013 at 1:35PM
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Here are some pictures post surgery. I've drawn a white line/circlish box around the split. The two branches that split apart are at the top of the circlish box.

This post was edited by PaulJ1x on Sun, Mar 10, 13 at 22:12

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:10PM
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Close up of the split after the rod is put in. This is the area inside the white box.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:15PM
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The other side looks much better. The rain finally stopped so I could take these pictures!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 10:17PM
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Sadly, the images do not convey the most important information about this split: the condition of the crotch.

Nevertheless, these trees are brittle and often have poor crotches with included bark, which is likely what happened here. That means you want to look at all your other crotches on this tree, and prepare for more wind damage in the future. The more advanced cities don't allow this as a street tree due to the cost of maintenance and liability.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:33AM
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What type of tree is this?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:38AM
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You could also prune down to the next lateral (the next crotch down). I am surmising from your picture that this is not a separate leader but has a lower lateral limb. With this the split portion could be removed without severe disfiguring of the tree occuring.

What is the tree species? What climatic zone are you located?

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 8:12PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I agree with Tn_Tree_Man that a drop-crotching/reduction cut would be the preferred solution for this situation. But, if you do decide to keep the split crotch for a while (it's not gonna last forever), I would rework that rodding job. It's hard to tell scale by the picture, but it looks like you could go up in size just a little. Go get you a stainless steel threaded rod (I'd probably use two) a little larger than what you have. They should be hard to find, and somewhere like Graingers carries them, if they aren't available at your nearest big-box store. The next change would be to carefully trace around the washers (similar to what you have now or thicker) with a knife and remove the bark under the washers. You want those washers against xylem (not the bark), and I would try to embed the washers so the outer edge is approximately equal with the outer edge of bark. This will give you a lot better support and allow the tree to start covering over that wound (and the hardware). One you get the washers seated properly, cut the rod off flush with the outer edge of the nuts. In a short time, the tree will cover over the hardware and rodding wound, but your crotch is still gonna be a magnet for rot. Maybe you'll get a decade or so out of that trunk before significant rot leads to failure.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 10:04PM
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Without having done anything else other than inquiring upon my overloaded brain circuits, looks like some sort of Koelreuteria from here.

I also see several other crotches that have the same problem as the one that is the subject of this thread. After you find the bolt likely didn't work for you, you (or the city, as it is in their ROW and may be their responsibility) may want to address potential liability to anything in the ROW.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:13PM
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