Cabling and bracing a split black walnut

This black walnut in Sackville, NB needed some help to keep it from falling apart, so Woodpecker Tree Care was hired to give it the support it desperately needed. The problem is pretty obvious, it’s splitting down the middle, but you need more than superglue and some string to pull it back together. 

A person puts their foot on a split walnut tree.

That’s where cabling and bracing comes in. Usually only one or the other is necessary to keep the tree together, but the Woodpecker Tree Care team felt that this split black walnut needed extra help and pulled out both methods. The team was very excited to break out the threaded rod and Cobra cables and save this tree from an unfortunate break up. 

John Haney wears a helmet and protective eyewear as he places a metal rod through a split black walnut tree.

To get the two halves of the split tree together again, the team pulled them back together using a block-and-tackle method. Next, metal rods had to be drilled into the broken trunk.

A washer and nut are nested inside tree bark.

Depending on the size of the tree, you’ll need a different rod (you wouldn’t use the same size rod for an apple tree that you would an oak, for example). Much like sitting a broken bone with pins, the rods are drilled between the split halves and secured to keep the trunk stable. John secured the rod with nuts and washers before cutting and riveting it to make sure the nut doesn’t wiggle off as the black walnut sways in the breeze (or a hurricane). The tree will eventually grow over the hardware, and you might not ever know it was there in the first place. 

A person saws a metal piece attached to a tree trunk with an electric saw.

The team could have packed up and gone off to the next job after that, but they wanted to be certain that the newly reformed couple would be well taken care of. So, they broke out the Cobra cabling kit, and climbed up into the canopy. The cables are made with hollow rope, which is woven to allow other objects inserted inside them such as a shock absorber (handy for trees in windy places) or a flat edge (handy for friction against the bark, trees move around!). Kevin weaved together a cable that would encourage the two halves of the tree to stay close, despite the elements. 

Kevin wears a hard hat and smiles next to a cable in a tree.

With that, the black walnut is back together again. With time, the two halves will remember why they grew together in the first place, and grow over the metal braces Woodpecker Tree Care drilled into their trunk for support. The team wishes the black walnut good luck, and hopes to see it take to the treatments.

A person in a helmet peeks out from behind the trunk of a tree.