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I have a large tree in my front yard and last fall I noticed a crack down the middle. Six months later, it appears the crack is getting larger (see pictures below). Is there any way to save the tree, or does it need to be removed?

front view

back view

whole tree

11

Consult a tree surgeon. If you want to save it, it might be possible to cable the top parts (not "tie a rope around") to keep it from spreading wider. Depending on the decay of the trunk, this might or might not make any sense to do.

cabled tree

Image from "ask this old house" website at:

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/asktoh/question/0,,1597909,00.html

  • OP, this is a good idea for a temporary solution, but in your case, there is something seriously wrong with your tree and it will likely be dead soon, if it doesn't fall over on your house. My sister cabled a tree and it was fine, as it was not dying (too bad). If it's an elm, definitely cut it down ASAP. Elms are generally pretty weak, in my area at least. – Bulrush May 3 '16 at 13:09
  • @Bulrush - please note that the advice is to "consult a tree surgeon" (aka arborist) - such a person will be able to assess and advise on the specific tree a lot better than we can do with a few pictures on the internet. If their assessment supports cabling, it is an option, and actually a pretty common one that lasts a long time if done right, by a professional. If their assessment deems that unwise, it is not an option. I do not suggest that the homeowner go out and do this without professional advice. I'm personally familiar with trees that have been cabled for 20 years or more... – Ecnerwal May 3 '16 at 15:26
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Yes, a professional arborist could save the tree using cabling and bolts as the practical Ecnerwal illustrates. This would be something you would do as soon as possible. It appears that the two halves are held together by little more than bark. This tree would now be classed as a physical hazard to you and anything close to it.

If you did choose cabling and bolts the problem does not go away as the tree will continue to grow and put on weight. Trimming on a regular basis would be recommended. The usual finding on close inspection is decay and rot have set in where the tree splits. If this is the case then cabling is not appropriate as it could still be a hazard.

With the cost of an arborist the best solution is to get the job done once. Have it removed and the stump chipped out and plant a new one. Your tree had issues due to included bark. These tree care sites note that included bark is a key reason for quick action, usually removal.

3

This is an emergency situation. I'd recommend immediate removal unless you want some serious damage to your house. Get on top of this NOW!

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    Such panic. The photograph seems to show a tree that will drop on the lawn in front of the house, not on the house.... – Ecnerwal May 1 '16 at 0:40
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    I'd be cautious. Spring weather is volatile. Yes, this could easily wind up on the house. Twisting winds in a thunderstorm can send it anywhere. Yeah, if you have an ounce of sense you get this done and pronto. – ncmathsadist May 1 '16 at 0:43
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    @Ecnerwal only if the inhabitants of the house have sufficient magical powers to control the direction of the wind. Unless the perspective in the photo is misleading, the tree should have been felled when the house was built IMO. – alephzero May 1 '16 at 23:12
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    The OP is getting on top of it "NOW!" by asking this question for advice. Your answer adds nothing but panic. – Lightness Races in Orbit May 1 '16 at 23:42
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    @alephzero The point is that the tree is failing under its own weight, not due to winds, and the weight of each "half" is out of balance in a particular direction. – Random832 May 2 '16 at 5:20
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Get it removed asap. There is no way to save the tree unless you plan in putting rope around it. Get it cut down when you can... it will keep going till it falls over.

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