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Garnet Japanese Maple (w/BIG PROBLEM!)

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by littleoldlady on February 23, 2006 07:07 AM
Hello! I have a garnet japanese maple - one of those small decorative varieties - tiny red leaves, about two feet high, wide spreading and 5 years old.

A recent snowstorm caused the trunk to split open leaving a gash about 3-4" deep. (There is/was a definite "V" in the structure of the tree.) I don't think either side of the tree will break off, but what do I do about this? Tape it up? Leave it alone?

HELP? Thanks!
littleoldlady
by jonni13 on February 23, 2006 02:10 PM
Can you actually get the two sides of the split to touch? If you can then taping would be my choice. Like grafting. Hopefully, someone more expert in this area will be here with an answer for you in awhile.

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~Tina
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Getting old is the pits. But it sure beats the alternative. My Blog
by peppereater on February 23, 2006 10:17 PM
Don't use tape, it's better not to wrap anything around the trunk. If you can get the two sides to match back up, you can actually use screws to hold it together. You could use the tape temporarily while you find the right screws and make repairs, but don't leave it on permanently.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by obywan59 on February 23, 2006 10:53 PM
The problem with tape is that eventually, it could strangle the plant. You would see the bark actually start trying to grow out over the tape. If the tree grows so much that the tape overly restricts the movement of nutrients and branches to the upper branches, the upper part of the tree will die. I once had branch of one of my espaliered apple trees die because I had neglected a piece of twine that was tying it to my support wire.

However, this doesn't happen overnight. Personally, I would use the tape rather than screws. Just check it periodically, and remove it within a year at most. You can always put a new piece of tape of at that time if you feel it needs more time for proper healing.

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Terry

May the force be with you
by peppereater on February 23, 2006 11:05 PM
Terry, in the arborist trade, we routinely bolt mature trees that have split or mr might split. tape can lead to more problems than girdling...it could damage the tender bark of a Japanese Maple if it chafes, and it would not allow the bark to breath. Fine screws could be left in premanently, thus preventing the split from happening again. Narrow "v" crotches are notorious for splitting. Another technique for securing the split is to drill a small hole through the trunk and running a doubled wire through, then twisting and knotting it at either side, but this is difficult to describe without an illustration...
The 2 sides of the split may never fully graft back together, or they may, but this v will always be a weak spot without reinforcement.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by peppereater on February 23, 2006 11:07 PM
quote:
Originally posted by peppereater:
Terry, in the arborist trade, we routinely bolt mature trees that have split or might split. tape can lead to more problems than girdling...it could damage the tender bark of a Japanese Maple if it chafes, and it would not allow the bark to breath. Fine screws could be left in premanently, thus preventing the split from happening again. Narrow "v" crotches are notorious for splitting. Another technique for securing the split is to drill a small hole through the trunk and running a doubled wire through, then twisting and knotting it at either side, but this is difficult to describe without an illustration...
The 2 sides of the split may never fully graft back together, or they may, but this v will always be a weak spot without reinforcement.

By all means I would pull the two halves back together immediatly no matter which method you choose.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by peppereater on February 23, 2006 11:08 PM
OOps...didn't mean to post that way...sorry. [Embarrassed]

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by littleoldlady on February 24, 2006 12:20 AM
Tina, Dave & Terry,

Thank you so much for your responses!

I just threw some tape on the split, and will have talloldman (hubby) figure out some way to get screws into my poor tree. The trunk is rather small and delicate, and the gash is much deeper than I realized [Frown] [Frown] This is going to be SOME surgery!

Dave, since I'm going to need to drill a hole (or holes) into the trunk anyway, should I attempt your wire solution? Is it like a tourniquet? (Creating a "wire bolt" on each end?) Or is it wrapped around the diameter of the trunk?

Thanks again for your help,
littleoldlady
/very big sigh [Frown]
by peppereater on February 24, 2006 11:52 PM
No, it's not wrapped around the trunk. I'll see if I can find a website that show the technique and link to it.
Did the trunk go together fairly seamlessly, or is there a gap? And how thick would you say the trunk is? 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch? I realize it's a small tree, and fixing it could be a little tricky...Any chance you could post a pic? I could give you my opinion if you could.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by littleoldlady on February 25, 2006 06:21 AM
Dave,
Hope this works...

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The tree trunk is 1 to 1.5 inches (radius). As you can see, it's much worse than I originally thought. [Frown]

I appreciate your help - A LOT!

Thanks,
littleoldlady
by peppereater on February 26, 2006 12:08 AM
Okay, that's a definite candidate for bolting or screwing together. Great job on that picture!
What I would do is use a wire well above the split...you've seen how they use a wire run through a short piece of hose to stake a tree? Run the wire through the hose section, wrap the hose around the trunk as if you were going to stake it, Then slip the wire through a second piece and wrap it around the trunk on the other side of the tree. With the hose sections protecting the trunk, well above the split, at least as high as the first large crotches, pull the wire snug until the split has closed. Is this clear?
You may need to put two such "cables" in and adjust the tension in order to get the tension balanced and get the edges of the split lined up precisely. You will leave this on for at least 2 years, but you'll need to make sure it's not damaging the tree where it contacts the trunk(s). Check it from time to time.
In addition tho this, go ahead and find thin bolts that are just long enough to go through the trunk with enough length to add a washer at either side and 2 nuts on the thread side. You'll put 2 nuts on so they'll "lock" against each other.
I'd use 2 of these. I tried to illustrate where to put these bolts using Paint. See the red lines? That's where I'd put the bolts. Where the white line is, I would put in a screw, angled roughly as I show. The green line shows a spot where you could run the wire, but higher would be fine, as long as the wire is secure and the wood is thick enugh to be strong.

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That split is severe, and the wood severely compromised. You'll need the "cables" to take the stress off of the wood at the split until some new growth strengthens the trunk...the only place where any "healing" takes place is at the cambium, the portion where bark and inner wood meet, so the wood inside will never grow together and regain the strength it once had. That's why you will leave the bolts and screws in premanently. I know this all sounds complicated, but it's not. That little tree is well worth saving, and of course very expensive to replace.
Keep us updated!
A word of encouragement...I've done this type of procedure on very large, mature trees many times, and they are all thriving.

[thumb]

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by peppereater on February 26, 2006 05:27 AM
These might help. Here is roughly how you'd tie the wire at either end. Make sure and bend the wire in a nice rounded shape so that it doesn't pinch the tree too much in any one spot. This photo greatly exaggerates the size of the wire, and the wire itself does not actually contact the trunk as it appears to. A good type to use is electric fence wire...it's a little heavy, but not too bad to work with. You could ask for a slightly lighter guage wire, but be sure it's galvanized.

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and here are a screw and bolt. The bolt is just about the right size, the screw is much too large but it's the type you'd use. Make sure they're made of stainless steel or are galvanized.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!
by littleoldlady on February 26, 2006 07:33 AM
DAVE! You are my HERO!

I see we have our work cut out for us. Your explanation and illustrations are crystal clear, however, and I'm pretty sure we can do this.

I'll take another picture when we get the construction done. [Smile]

THANK YOU SO MUCH!
littleoldlady
by peppereater on February 26, 2006 08:08 AM
Please do keep us informed!
Keep an eye on this, as well...there are likely to be some minor branches die, but not nescessarily.

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Dave
Even my growlights are getting restless!

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