The Q&A Archives: Tree Trunk Splitting

Question: My 4" eastern redbud tree began to split at the main fork this winter. Can I repair and save it? What can I do?

Answer: I'm sorry to hear about your tree. Your best bet is to reinforce the area where the split is occuring. To do this, you'll need to find two very sturdy carriage bolts, or two large threaded rods, with nuts and washers to fit. The idea is to drill two holes, side by side, horizontally throught the trunk at, or just above, the split. (If you use just one rod, it will probably break as the tree sways in the wind. Two rods, side by side about two inches apart, will reduce the swaying and therefore the stress on the bolts.) Place a large washer on the bolt, insert through the hole, and add another washer, and finally the bolt. As you tighten down the bolts, it should draw the two sides of the split together.

Whatever you do, do NOT wrap wire, strapping or anything else around the tree -- as the tree grows, this will girdle it and, eventually, kill it.

Best of luck with your tree!

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