After carefully choosing a very nice 5ft Japenese maple and taking
delivery of it, our landscaper slightly damaged the tree while moving
it from the pot into the ground. Where a two branch fork exists, the
tree split 1-2 inches right down the middle of the fork. The
landscaper used duct tape to pull the split back together and told us
the tree should heal in a few weeks. If this repair does not work,
the tree will be lost as the two forked brances that I'm describing
are two of three main growths from the tunk.
Is this the right way to repair the split? Is there anything else I
Charlie (Boston, MA)
P.S. The reason I ask is because our landscaper was less than honest
that he did the damage, claiming the split was there when he went to
plant it. I don't want to compound his mistake by permanently
damaging our new tree.
As soon as you can, get some pruning compound and spread some over the duct
tape. The objective is to seal the break from air. As along as the cambium
layer of each part of the break is aligned and airfree, the tree will
from email@example.com (CP) contains these words:
No, it's an incompetent bodge. Duct tape is the wrong stuff to use. IF
he had used the correct material, the tree might make new bark growth
around the split. However, that spot would always be a scar weakness in
the worst possible place, where disease or rot will probably get in and
ruin the tree in later years. If he's competent at his job, he knows
that and is not telling you. If he isn't competent....:-(.
Learn the lesson he's taught you twice; he can't be trusted. I'd
refuse to accept damaged goods and deduct its full cost from any payment
Be wary if he offers to bring you a replacement because with his record
he might just put the split tree's label onto a cheaper inferior maple;
it's autumn so you wouldn't know till the new leaves come next year.
On 9 Oct 2003 06:43:01 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (CP) wrote:
There is a slight chance the two sides of this split will grow back
together (likelihood inversely proportional to how quickly tape was
applied after injury), but the attachment between them will always be
weak. That's not to say they will die, but they are likely to split
apart later. If the diameter of the split trunk is large enough, you
can put a bolt through the wood and reinforce the crotch that way, but
it sounds like this plant is too small for that. The idea is that you
cannot reattach the two parts of the crotch, but you may be able to
reinforce it with something else.
Tape is a bad choice. You need something permanent, because the plant
will now be dependent on whatever you use. Wrapping wire or another
material around the split is also a bad idea. A tree grows by
expanding its diameter. A wire around it will eventually take on the
role of noose and the whole top of the tree will suffer and/or die as
a result. If drilling through the wood is not feasible, you might be
able to hold the tree together with support cables that tie one side
of the tree to the other, but again you would face the problem of
girdling when you looped the cable around the branch (obviously you
won't be able to drill throughthe branches if the trunk is too small).
In the final analysis, your best bet is probably to convince the
landscaper he destroyed the plant and make him replace it. A
consulting arborist could back you up in this endeavor, but it may be
cheaper to replace the plant (I know Jap maples are expensive, but
you're looking at your own time, the cost of the consultation, and
possible follow-up costs to get the arborist to pursue the issue with
the developer). You can also get tree information from the ISA at
ISA Certified Arborist
For more info about the International Society of Arboriculture, please visit
For consumer info about tree care, visit http://www.treesaregood.com /
I am no great friend of 'landscapers' but feel that they should not take all
the blame. To have chosen a tree with a genuine V branching was to invite
this problem sooner or later. The first real wind would have possibly
achieved the same result. It was probably grown in a very sheltered
environment in the nursery and is an expected form with Maples that should
have been noticed and avoided.
The tape might work but the fault will arise again.
Personally, I would approach the supplier and investigate the possibility
of a replacement, having explained how easily the damage was caused. If all
else fails then by judicious pruning the tree could expect to regain a
reasonable shape in a couple of seasons. Good luck~~ Brian
email@example.com (CP) wrote in message
It's quite possible the split was there when the landscaper went to
plant the tree as that kind of branching is inherently weak.
Go and get another tree as this one will always have weakness at the
crotch and the only thing that cannot be made up is time.
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