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EDIT: 2017/09/09 In the end I trimmed pretty aggressively and I don't think any support will be necessary. The walkway is no longer obstructed. I hope I wasn't too aggressive. Thanks to both Bamboo and olantigh for the advice!

enter image description here

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Original post:

How can I tie a tree without harming it?

I have a juniper/cedar tree with several trunks/branches that are diverging now that the tree has gotten taller and heavier. The result is it sprawls out a lot, taking up space, especially when laden with snow.

I'd like to tie the main branches more tightly together to reduce the sprawl and give support. However, I've read that using rope can choke the tree and cut its "circulation." I suppose any answer will require spreading the force over an area, but what material and method should be used?

Pictures available at: http://imgur.com/a/kjoLN

Front view showing tree encroaching on walkway. Front view showing tree encroaching on walkway.

Side view showing sprawl, which gets worse when laden with snow. Side view showing sprawl, which gets worse when laden with snow.

Trunks/branches that might be braced together to reduce sprawl and give support. Trunks/branches that might be braced together to reduce sprawl and give support.

For tree identification. Notice needles in lower right of image, and smoother young stems in upper left. enter image description here

  • I can only see one picture, and can't see clear detail of the cones and branches, need a close up of both leaves and cones, but its apparent that you will need to take off more on the side nearest the gate. It won't make for an aesthetically pleasing shape, but its very much in the way, isn't it. Unless its blocking an unpleasant view or something, I'd have it chopped down to the base or removed. Tying it up will just cause disease. – Bamboo Aug 8 '17 at 20:37
  • @Bamboo There should be 4 pictures if you scroll down. Do they not show for you? Yes, I think I will end up removing a few branches blocking the walkway. What do you mean by chopping it down to the base? – adatum Aug 8 '17 at 20:43
  • @Bamboo Added the images in-line into the original post. – adatum Aug 8 '17 at 20:50
  • The photos show there are three different trees there - the one that looks like its blocking the gate its likely a Thuja or Leyland Cypress, but there's another conifer in there as well as a broadleaf tree. Cutting a conifer right down usually means it never grows again, although a Leylandii might so the stump would need treating to prevent regrowth. You might want to consider removing one or two of the trees currently there, certainly the one that's blocking the gate by cutting it to the ground and using stumpkiller. Doing this would still leave the other/s in place, unharmed. – Bamboo Aug 8 '17 at 21:07
  • @Bamboo To the best of my knowledge, there's just one conifer (the broad leaves come from the adjacent shrub): i.imgur.com/9JE8HPy.jpg but it repeatedly branches out. This image also shows the needles and smoother stems, as well as some buds, on the same branch: i.imgur.com/do1OpIt.jpg All of the light "dots" in the first picture are such buds. I'm thinking I might have to reduce the number of forking branches, but that might leave some very large unsightly gaps. – adatum Aug 8 '17 at 22:17
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There are many ways of doing this however Bamboo is right, either remove it or lift the crown/canopy by removing some lower branches, if that's not an option the general idea of support is to lift in a way that doesn't damage the plant or anchor(plant or support your tying it to). if you try not to cut off its circulation, by using a rubber tie for trees with spacers- the rubber doesn't cut into the bark and ties often have a buckle that allows one to let the branch grow by releasing it every few months or years and retying it up again. Other options are more expensive using ready made wire supports, I suppose you could go online for examples used by tree surgeons, again they use soft rubber around the branches and wire lattices to connect to an anchor thus lifting the branches with a lot of power/strain- really only used in very heavy applications or hard to reach places, again really only should be done by experts with insurance. The other option is to try a wooden support like a sling under the branch with soft material like a cradle and then a pole underneath into the ground that could be self supporting or connected to something like a building or wall- a bit fiddly and finding a place without root problems will be difficult- many examples used for really old trees like ancient oaks that the national trust own- but then organisations like that one have got the man power and money for such undertakings. hope it helps. As for extra ideas I would heed the advice here- based on your budget and ability to do the job, plus the tools necessary to do it properly and safely, however I also feel that a prickly conifer right next to a walk way is not a good thing- I find my self getting the itches from such plants so perhaps not so much right plant right place this time round? have a good think before you do anything you might regret. hope it helps.

  • Thanks this helps! I didn't know of these products, such as velcro tree ties, chainlock tree ties, rubber tree ties, buckle tree ties, etc. I'm thinking a combination of velcro tree tie and removal of some branches should be sufficient and cost effective for this situation. Thoughts? – adatum Aug 9 '17 at 18:55
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I would cut down the smaller trunk. However, I have put threaded rod ( aka very long bolt ) between two trunks to hold them together . 5/16 " rod would likely be strong enough for this, any hardware store has rod and nuts.

  • I considered cutting one of the trunks, however that would leave the tree looking like it was cut down the middle -- rather ugly. I also wonder how the tree would respond to such a severe "trim." Now with the branches trimmed, I think the problem is mostly solved. We'll see in the winter. I may have to rethink this in the future. – adatum Sep 11 '17 at 4:41
  • Actually , I think large" eye screws" ( like 1/4 ") with wire would be better. You can twist the wire to make as much force as you want. – blacksmith37 Sep 12 '17 at 17:14
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You shouldn't tie it at all I'm afraid - if its spreading out as it grows, that's its growth habit, and if that doesn't suit the space available for it, it's a case of 'right plant, wrong place'. Consider removing it altogether and choose something to replace it that better fits the space available. Removal of a couple of lower branches is a possibility, if that helps the situation, although a photograph for ID purposes would be useful.

  • I added pictures to help with identification, and to show the sprawl. The tree is almost completely blocking a walkway. There's also a photo showing the diverging trunks/branches. Removing the tree isn't really an option. It's been there for probably 3 decades. I just want to trim it and not have it in the way. I did remove the very lowest branch. I may end up removing a few more, but wanted some input first. Also, limiting the height would be nice. A few years ago the tops were lobbed off. It grew taller and wider with a vengeance. – adatum Aug 8 '17 at 19:11

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