Excessive Weight or Structural
Decline in Old Growth Trees

March 18 , 2004

In the Santa Ynez Valley, we are fortunate to have an abundance of very old and very large oak trees. However, this can cause problems. In the wild these trees live for hundreds of years. As they age and grow larger each year, they deplete the soil of necessary nutrients. When they reach middle age, depending on their water supply, they can start to shed large limbs because of limb weight and leaf weight. This is part of their natural life cycle. The fallen wood decomposes and fertilizes the seeds that have fallen in previous years.

Watching a tree deteriorate is often not acceptable for us, if we have grown fond of the beauty this full sized giant provides for our environment. Trimming excessively is never the solution to this natural occurrence. It will only hasten the tree's demise. Cabling and bracing is the only acceptable method to help keep the tree whole and healthy. Removal of large limbs may, at times, be the only answer to severe structural problems. But only someone extremely knowledgeable about old growth trees should make this decision. Removal of any large portion of a tree is always damaging to its future.

Removal of a large limb often makes cabling impossible. A large limb is needed on one side of the tree as the counter weight for the opposing limb on the opposite side of the tree. Cables are attached at approximately 2/3 of the limbs length. The cable is then attached higher in the center of the tree. To keep the cabled limb from pulling the center of the tree over, another cable is run from the high attachment down to the opposing limb. When the cabling is complete, all weight is balanced in the tree, keeping the center straight.

Cabling is always done with material purchased from a reputable company that deals in supplying tree company supplies. Hardware stores supply our needs in many ways, however, this is not one of them.

Don't be fooled by people who claim to have this knowledge. Anything less than perfect can cause serious problems for people, livestock and structures.

Santa Ynez Valley Tree Care
P.O. Box 1147, Santa Ynez, California 93460

(805) 688-5580

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