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I came home tonight to find a beloved apple tree lying on the ground. I suspect a bear because I saw one yesterday climbing the same tree trying to get the apples.

The tree appears completely unbroken, except for being horizontal. The roots are a bit pulled out of the ground, but otherwise seem intact.

If I can find a way to raise the tree back to vertical, is it possible to save the tree?

Update

I took a close look and indeed the roots are pretty broken:

enter image description here

It's hard to imagine a break this bad ever mending, but is it possible?

  • How big is the tree, both height and trunk diameter (or circumference if that's easier to measure)? Could you edit your post to include a picture of it showing the damage? – Niall C. Aug 14 at 1:40
  • @NiallC.: the tree is about 6 inches in diameter and maybe 20 feet tall at the most. I should add that the tree was a bit bent before this, I think because it had once had to reach to get sun, although that's no longer the case. – Joshua Frank Aug 14 at 20:07
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Quite likely the roots that are "a bit pulled out of the ground" have been broken and the ends of the roots are still in the ground. The roots on the other side of the tree may have been damaged as well even if they are still underground.

All you can do is get it upright again, stake it to prevent more damage until the roots have re-established themselves, give it plenty of water to compensate for any root damage, and (most important) find a way to make it bear-proof :)

Then, you wait and see whether you got lucky or not. My late grandfather's comment on this sort of situation was always the same: "Well, it's got two chances: live or die." A lifetime of gardening and farming had taught him not to get emotionally involved with this sort of accident!

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  • After looking in better light, I saw that indeed there's a pretty badly broken root. I added a photo to my post. Any chance now? – Joshua Frank Aug 14 at 20:08
  • So the tree is pretty heavy and I can't get it upright. It was in need of a heavy pruning, which I was going to do in late winter. If I pruned it now, it might be even harder on the tree, but if I don't, I don't think I'll be able to raise it at all. Do you think pruning in this situation would help or hurt? – Joshua Frank Aug 21 at 16:59

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