I'm aiming to run some rope across the tops of several small trees, and I want the ropes to rise up with the trees. I'm concerned that, rather than raising the rope up with the growth of the tree, the rope will stay near its starting altitude, and the tree will just grow around the rope.

If the rope won't stay near the top of the tree, what about putting a hat on top of the tree and tying the rope to the hat? Would some kinds of hats be better than others? For example, if I use a hat which is too restrictive, the tree might just grow around it rather than pushing it upward, but if I make it too loose, it might be too easy to blow off the tree.

Additionally, suppose the rope or hat is heavy. Are there any good resources indicating how much weight a tree will "lift" by growing (rather than simply growing around the weight)?

If the answer depends on the type of tree, please name and assume the use of a species which will maximize my goals -- tall, relatively fast growing, and able to raise this rope, regardless of climate.

  • Rope or string? 'm curious as to why you want to tie either across the top of the trees, what's the purpose?
    – Bamboo
    Jun 10, 2022 at 16:58

1 Answer 1


Trees grow in two ways.

  1. They grow outward, getting fatter.
  2. The top sends out a new growth "leader," getting taller.

Note that neither of these cause any part of the established plant to get taller, except for the new growth at the top.

So as you neatly summarized: "the rope will stay near its starting altitude, and the tree will just grow around the rope."

As for your "hat" idea, the hat will probably starve the new leader for sunlight, causing it to not grow properly.

It would really help to better understand what you are trying to accomplish with this. There may be better ways to achieve your goal.

  • 1
    Or the rope will girdle the tree and kill the top, which in a roundabout way would put the rope near the top once the dead top fell off...but still not higher.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 11, 2022 at 17:44
  • Thanks for the answer! I want to see how much upward force I can borrow from a tree. When I've got a good method for making the tree pull upward (at however many cm per year), and have figured out a force per tree, the plan is to use multiple trees to pull upward on a chain and turn a very fancy gearbox, and then I'll translate that motion into a variety of other similarly inefficient means for accomplishing other goals. Jun 17, 2022 at 16:36
  • Suppose I used a hat which was made of a transparent mesh or something, so that sunlight, wind, and water could pass through? Jun 17, 2022 at 16:38
  • 1
    You and Rube Goldberg would make a fine team! I think that, rather than asking questions here, you should just go out and experiment. No one here is likely to have the actual experience you seek. Jun 17, 2022 at 18:26

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