Broken branches on your tree can pose a major safety hazard. Should they drop, they can damage property and potentially cause injury to people and animals standing nearby. That’s not to mention the risk to the tree itself. A broken branch can leave the tree vulnerable to bacteria, fungus, and insect infestations. Aesthetic considerations should also be taken into account. A tree that has damaged or missing branches may not have the same pleasing presence that a healthy tree does.
So if your tree has a broken or damaged branch, is there anything you can do about it? Is it possible to repair broken tree branch parts, or is it a lost cause? Fortunately, it’s often possible to help the tree mend its branches if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
Just How Damaged Is the Tree Branch?
You’ll have to begin the process by inspecting the damaged branch. Since your goal is to encourage the tree’s natural healing processes, there will have to be enough of the the branch still connected for there to be any chance of this. If the branch has snapped off completely, then it should simply be disposed of: it won’t be possible to reattach it. If, on the other hand, it’s hanging on by the bark, there might be a chance to fix it.
There has to be a wide enough strip of bark for the tree to be able to mend; about an inch is usually necessary. If it’s hanging on by narrow fibers, once again, it most likely cannot be repaired.
How Large Is It?
If you’ve determined that the branch has enough of the bark material left to repair the tree tissue that has split apart and been damaged, then you’ll need to determine how to reattach the branch. Once again, you have to allow the tree’s natural healing processes to do the job, and that simply means reconnecting the branches. The trick is that the tree’s ability to mend itself can take quite a long time, even years in some cases. This means you’ll have to reattach the damaged branch parts very securely and in such a way that they won’t re-break over the many months that the tree requires to repair itself.
Before you attempt to secure the tree branch, you’ll need to determine just how heavy it is. Smaller branches can be reattached much more easily than large, heavy ones, so look at the branch you’re trying to fix and try to estimate the weight. Note that actually lifting the branch and trying to estimate its weight by hand is not recommended, as moving the branch too much before you attempt to repair it can cause the bark pieces holding it in place to break.
The Materials You Need
Once you have a good idea of the size of the job you’re attempting, you’ll need to make a full inventory of the materials you need. There are a few necessities required for any sort of job working with trees: this means long pants, a long-sleeved work shirt, closed-toe work boots, and a pair of heavy-duty gloves. You’ll also need a stable ladder, a hardhat, and a pair of pruning shears just in case you need to remove the branch after all. You may also need a drill in case you need to stabilize the branch with metal screws.
Plus, you need some materials that are specifically for securing the broken tree branch that you’re trying to repair. For smaller branches, you may only need duct tape. For larger ones, you’ll need wire to tape the branch to or a set of bolts in order to hold very big branches in place.
Performing the Repair
You can repair the broken tree branch parts by first holding them together and then wrapping them in duct tape. You may need to use quite a few layers, spread them out over a large area of the branch to hold them together properly. Remember that the branch needs to not only be held together but to be protected from infection or infestation by pests. For that reason, the better your coverage is, the better it will be for the tree.
For larger branches, you can wrap them in wire, which you’ll place above the duct tape. Wrap it tightly, but not so tightly that it digs into the bark of the tree—this could injure the tree further. Lead some of the wire toward and around the trunk itself to further stabilize the tree branch.
Should the branch be very heavy, you can also create a splint using a wooden board, which you can hold in place with wire, duct tape, or twine. For even larger limbs, you can use a cable and some bolts to hold the branch in place. Note, however, that this is the most challenging method. This is because the bolts themselves can damage the tree if you’re not careful.
If you have to screw into a tree branch, do so with great care. You don’t want to make any more holes than you need to. Also, utilize rust-proof bolts so that they don’t corrode within the bark of the tree. If the tree is already weakened due to infection or injury, it’s best not to drill into it at all, as it may further harm the tree.
If You Need To: Call a Professional
If you’re uncertain whether you can perform the job safely—for yourself or the tree—you will need to contact a professional. Look for a company that offers repair services and that can repair broken tree branch limbs in a safe and professional manner. It’s also important that the company is insured and has years of experience in the business. One example of such a company is Mr. Tree. We have served Portland and the surrounding area for decades. Ask us to help with your tree branch repair so that you can get your tree happy and healthy once again.