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Split Tree Wedged in a Tough Spot Makes a Challenging Removal

Tree splits almost to the ground leaving house and power lines undamaged.

File this one under “W” for “Weird.” One of Giroud Tree and Lawn’s ISA Certified Arborists, Rob Nagy, recently finished a job where a problematic tree split right down the middle, ending about a foot off the ground! Needless to say, it was an amazing rather sight to behold.   But, we couldn’t ponder it for long because this tree needed to come down quickly before causing any major damage.

Located in a narrow front yard with the home and some power lines on either side, this removal was complicated.  With our EHAP(Electrical Hazards Awareness Program) certified crew and the help of a crane, we were able to remove the tree piece by piece following strict safety protocols. 

The big question of course is why did this tree split?  The root of the problem points clearly to the tree’s unhealthy codominant lead growth pattern.

A lead, otherwise known as a stem, is simply the main vertical growth of a tree. A tree with codominant leaders or stems will have more than one of these main vertical growths which can occur anywhere from the base of the tree to quite a few feet up from the base before parting ways.  As the tree grows, each lead grows bigger and heavier every year, putting an ever-increasing amount of strain on the crotch. Once the strain reaches critical mass, one of the leads will eventually fail, causing it to crack away from the other lead, or simply split the tree in half. In either case, the tree is damaged beyond repair making it a hazard to you and your property that must be removed.

The break and subsequent tree removal might have been prevented however by doing one of three things.

  1. Prune trees when they’re young to encourage healthy tree growth. By leaving saplings unchecked, they can develop codominant leaders which can spell trouble in the future.
  2. Install tree cables to redistribute the weight and help to support both leads to avoid any breakage.
  3. Trimming your trees will help reduce the weight each lead must bear, reducing the chances of a split.

At the end of the day, this homeowner was lucky to experience a break without either lead falling over. The house or power lines could have easily been damaged, causing a massive financial headache far worse than a simple tree removal bill. With pruning, cabling or trimming for weight reduction, this homeowner could quite possibly still be enjoying this magnificent tree for decades to come. If you have a tree with codominant leaders, give us a call today and we’ll see if it’s in good shape, and give you ideas on how to keep it healthy for years to come!

Author: Cindy Giroud

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