Spring Tree Series With Mike Herrema: Cabling
This is the sixth part of the Spring Tree Series with Mike Herrema from Cornerstone University. Previous articles in this series:
Last week I had a chance to have a tree cabled. Cabling is not a service I have completed much, if at all. In the end, cabling is really just putting a Band-Aid on the inevitable; the tree will fail, and cabling will only slow the rate of failure. If cabling is to be done, I would be more apt to recommend it be done on some desirable, unique, stately tree species. I, however, had it installed on an Autumn Blaze Sugar Maple, a tree which by all accounts might be a little over-planted in the West Michigan landscapes. I’m a huge fan of the fall color, but to me this tree is replaceable.
The reason why I had it cabled however, was to mitigate risk. The tree is near a sidewalk and a building and, in the event of failure, the tree would fall on either the building or the sidewalk. There was a rather
large crack in the trunk of the tree that, while it looked like it had been there for several years, and survived huge wind storms. Once I knew about it something had to be done. With the proximity to the sidewalk and a higher risk of failure, the danger was big enough to warrant action.
Weighing The Options
I had two options to consider to decrease the risk; either tree removal or cabling. The tree service company that I work with gave me a price on both, and this time the prices were the same so both were options. If I got rid of the tree, I could replant with a more structurally sound species, and the new species might lend itself better to a landscape redesign that I have to complete in the next year or two. On the other hand, the tree is rather large and gives a huge splash of fall color to the University when the students are here; one thing can be said about sugar maples is that they good interesting trees for a student population. The decision was really a tossup, but what ultimately saved the tree was that I didn’t want to see the scar from the removal this close to the University’s graduation. There was no way that thousands of people walking by would not realize that a tree had recently been removed. The decision might have swayed the other way if I would have spotted the potential failure in the tree during the summer.
With having the tree cabled, I’m hoping that I get another 10 years of viability from the cabling system and the tree. With the cabling in place, the danger and risk of failure should be lower. I will still have to do periodic inspections, but having a great partnership with my tree service provider should insure constant monitoring. All in all, after making the decision, and having the project completed, it is kind of exciting to save a tree instead of removing it.