Tree Support Problem - Knowledgebase Question

Name: Paul
St. Charles, MO
Avatar for pfowlie
Question by pfowlie
August 9, 2000
I have two Maple trees I planted last summer in the backyard. They were about 25 gallon or so (about 8' tall to start). We bought tree staking kits which used a rubber tube type material which seemed to work great. The package said to leave them on for 2 years so I never looked close at them. My wife showed me that the tree has actually grown around some of the rubber support lines. Its mostly where a branch go outs from the main trunk, but sure enough, the rubber support is completely covered with the tree. I have to admit it looks pretty neat, but I'm worried about what this might do with the tree. The only way I would get my rubber support back would be to cut the affected branches from the main trunk. Or if it wouldn't hurt the tree, I could cut the rubber support close to the tree and allow the tree to just grow over it. The trees look very healthy despite their new diet of rubber. Any suggestions? Are my trees doomed? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!!!

Answer from NGA
August 9, 2000
If the ingrown support encircles the tree trunk then it will literally strangle it to death within a short time -- several years. If the support is at the base of a branch but has been removed from around the main trunk, it will probably cause that branch to die eventually. Trees are able to compartmentalize damage to a certain extent, but if the support is constricting too much of the tree's interior circulation it will weaken the tree over time. It might also cause interior weakness to the wood that could cause the tree to break at that spot some years later or in the future you might see a "dent" develop on the trunk at that spot followed by the demise of the tree for no apparent reason. You might want to consult with your county extension or a professionally trained and certified arborist as to what the prognosis is for your trees. You've probably already figured out it's a good idea to check such supports regularly so as to allow for growth of the tree; in many cases too it is no longer recommended to anchor newly planted trees at all unless they are in a truly windy location or there is some other particular reason to justify it.

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