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Very badly split Laburnum trunk

Discussion in 'Trees' started by silu, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. silu

    silu gardening easy...hmmm

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    Just spotted that my Laburnum has a very badly split trunk:yikes:. I don't know how long it has been like this as it is in part of the garden that I don't walk past on a regular basis. It's a lovely tree when in flower and I only have 1 so keen to rescue/save it.
    I am presuming it will be the weight of the 2 main branches which has made it split?
    Would I be best to strap the split? if so with what? Something like a racket strap?
    I am also presuming I need to quite heavily prune the 2 main branches to reduce their weight? Like most deciduous trees, do it now rather than in the Spring?
    I am loathed to give up on it as I am far too old to plant another 1 :)and new trees here look very stupid for years as the vast majority of the many trees in my garden are enormous which make any new ones I have planted over years look like lollipops.
    Happy to get the chainsaw out and give it a go if that's the best course of action. Why did it have to be a tree I am fond of? couldn't be 1 of the grotty Sycamores or 1 of the remaining Conifers I haven't already got rid of:wallbanging:
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    • roders

      roders Total Gardener

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      It certainly looks worth a try to save it.
      Perhaps a large clamp to draw the split together and then tension stap it a tight as possible.
      It has two chances.......good luck.
       
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      • Sandy Ground

        Sandy Ground Total Gardener

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        I would think that a good arborist would have the best solution to this.

        Having said that, if it was my tree I would be very tempted to drill a hole through the tree, then use an M20 stainless steel threaded rod, then large stainless washers and nuts to draw it all together. Then, use PEG around the crack to prevent any diseases or parasites entering the trunk. If they have not already done so that is.

        It may work, it may not. I dont really see that there is much to lose.

        If the worst happens, and the tree dies, then perhaps the wood could be donated to a local woodturning club for the cost of a bowl made out of the tree?
         
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        • silu

          silu gardening easy...hmmm

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          Thanks both. I have had a look on the net and seen videos of what you are suggesting @Sandy Ground . It looks a bit brutal but with the crack as bad as it is maybe it needs a fairly "brutal" solution. From what I've gleaned it seems Laburnum is prone to doing what my tree has done. I'll get Daughter's BF to get me a suitable rod and nuts/washers. He is a very experienced mechanic and will know where I can source what I need I'd expect. I have seen recently what the local "Aborist" thought was a good job on a friend's trees:yikes: looked like the chainsaw massacre had been filmed where he'd been working. From what I have seen the job is relatively simple, it's just knowing how much tension to apply which might be a bit of a guess to get right.
           
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          • pete

            pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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            The crack looks like it has been there for a while at least.
            I think the biggest problem, apart from the fact one side or the other is going to break off, is that water will tend to rest in the crack and rot will get in.

            I like Sandy's idea.:smile:
             
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            • silu

              silu gardening easy...hmmm

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              I have been speaking to a friend who is a architect but very practical unlike some! He has all the necessary things to effect what you are recommending @Sandy Ground and having looked at the tree we are going to give the rod treatment a go. What is PEG? is it like Aborex? I actually found an ancient tin of said Aborex and opened it...rock solid so no good. The jury is somewhat out on painting wounds these days I think? Many consider it better to leave wounds to heal naturally.
              Friend thinks we should try and seal the split and try to stop water getting into the substantial crack. What do others think?
              I am not convinced my friend isn't keen to try this intervention in the hope the tree legs up as he, like you Sandy Ground is passionate about wood:). He has made some beautiful furniture and I have a lovely fruit bowl he turned for me out of Ash. He has already "booked"the Laburnum timber if it decides to die on me.
               
            • Sandy Ground

              Sandy Ground Total Gardener

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              PEG is PolyEthyleneGlycol. Its a substance used to slow down water from leaving or entering wood. Most people that work with woodturning, things like that will know what it is. There is something else that can be used, but try to get PEG first.

              There are some things to watch out for if you do this. First, use an auger bit at slow speed to drill the hole. Do not use a spade bit in this case. Second, use stainless rod, nuts and biggish washers. Two nuts on each end of the rod locked against each other. If you can, bend the washers to the shape of the tree. That avoids damaging the trunk.

              Looking at that split again, its possible that you may need two rods, one low, one high,
               
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              • silu

                silu gardening easy...hmmm

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                Yes @Sandy Ground we agreed 2 rods. Friend has some kind of leather thingies (you can tell techno is not my forte:))which he is intending to put on the bark before the washers to protect the bark as much as possible. I will ask him what kind of bits he has, hopefully the right ones...this sort of sounds a little risque:heehee:.
                Despite the serious split the tree looks really healthy and flowered very well this season. However before we have any really high winds I think we should attempt to help the tree.
                I'll ask friend if he has any PEG and if not get some. Do you think if we strengthen the tree with 2 rods we will still need to remove some of some branches/shorten them? I really don't like lopping trees unless it is essential, they seldom look right afterwards.Many thanks SG
                 
              • Sandy Ground

                Sandy Ground Total Gardener

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                @silu I'm not the right person to ask as regards pruning laburnum. I'm sure that the are more knowledgeable members on here that can advise.

                I have a very faint memory that there is a special way to prune them to get more flowers.
                 
              • pete

                pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                Might take a couple of tubs, but you could try sealing the crack with grafting wax, but I think you really need to know there is not a pool of water sitting in there first.

                In the old days I seem to remember on large trees they used concrete:biggrin:

                Dont think you are supposed to prune laburnum in winter because of "silver leaf", I've lopped some branches on mine occasionally after flowering, but often get die back on thick stems.

                I think to have any real effect, and help the tree, you would have to do some serious lopping on yours.
                 
              • shiney

                shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                I'm definitely not the one to ask about these things but just in case there's water in the crack I'd be inclined to use a leaf blower to try and blow it out. If you also have a long enough electric lead you could always try and finish it off with a blow dry. :blue thumb:
                 
              • silu

                silu gardening easy...hmmm

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                Thanks @shiney. We do have a leaf blower. well needed with the number of huge trees we have:yikes:and we do have a very very long extension cable so not such a silly idea:). It's been dry but baltic here for the last couple of weeks so stuff is pretty dry. I am hoping my friend is going to come armed with the necessary to do the rescue job at the weekend so will have a go at getting the crack as dry as possible before trying to seal it. B all point in sealing IN moisture!
                 
              • silu

                silu gardening easy...hmmm

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                What a job! Friend and I have managed with huge amounts of difficulty to get 1 rod through the trunk and done pretty much what @Sandy Ground suggested.
                This task was a lot more difficult than we thought it was going to be as friend didn't have a drill bit long enough to go all the way through the tree where we decided it was the best place to site it
                Sod's law the holes he drilled either side of the trunk didn't marry up. then the drill bit broke...much swearing from all concerned. Well what we have done will either kill or cure. The split had got worse from when I took the photos, not surprising with the hellish east wind we have been having. The tree is starting into growth so all we can do now is wait and see. I spoke to an abrorist I know and he advised to just leave the split open and not try to close it or seal it. He reckoned that unless you could completely seal it which would be nigh on impossible given it's location you were better to leave it as is:fingers crossed:.
                 
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                • silu

                  silu gardening easy...hmmm

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                  The rod we put through the trunk is under serious strain and the wooden (Mahogany) "guards" are beginning to split. The tree is looking ok altho, maybe it was the drought period, some of the leaves have coloured prematurely.
                  I really think the only thing I can do is to have the tree pruned quite a bit to take a lot of the weight off it. Any ideas as to when? This will have to entail removing fairly sizeable branches so not a light prune and I would therefore presume the timing be be important.
                   
                • Marley Farley

                  Marley Farley Affable Admin! Staff Member

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                  @silu I would get a tree surgeon to look at it and he will know the best time to prune up there, but Laburnums are best pruned during late summer and anytime up until Christmas..

                  They are prone to bleeding if pruned in spring or early summer
                   

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