Co-Dom Removal risk vs. reward question

laddo

Member
Location
New Orleans, LA
A customer of mine has a Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) with a pretty major co-dominate situation going on. The tree is next to the house and one of the leaders is growing out and leaning over the house. The customer would like to save the tree if possible, but wants the lead over the house gone. Each lead is approx 30’-40’ tall and 14”-16” dbh. I can clearly see a branch bark ridge at the union and there does not appear to be any inclusion of bark.

Obviously removing this lead will leave a significant wound that I am worried the tree will not be able to sufficiently compartmentalize. The union is only 2’ or so above the root crown so any decay there would spell “hazard” and compromise the tree as a whole.

I would like some opinions on this. I am relatively new to the industry and would like to be able to manage my customer’s expectations on this one.
5026c9d021c9730ae07fa9407bbcb248.jpeg



• Aim High, Climb Trees •
 

ajblease1

Member
Location
Bartlett, NH
From the picture and your description that appears to be a cabling and preservation job to me. I'd sell it as end weight reduction and put 1 or 2 3/4" Branch Saver cables in it to support it. The cables add support, and end weight reduction decreases weight from the point where it has the most leverage. The homeowner gets to keep a valuable piece of their landscape. You get recurring business because you'll have to go inspect the cables yearly, and repeat the end weight reduction as the tree grows.

You'll also need soe chafe sleeve, wire tape, and some kind of fid to install the cable. It's pretty easy. You will likely be fine with one cable, but two makes the homeowner feel better.

If the homeowner is intent on removing it I would recommend removing the whole tree.
 

laddo

Member
Location
New Orleans, LA
From the picture and your description that appears to be a cabling and preservation job to me. I'd sell it as end weight reduction and put 1 or 2 3/4" Branch Saver cables in it to support it. The cables add support, and end weight reduction decreases weight from the point where it has the most leverage. The homeowner gets to keep a valuable piece of their landscape. You get recurring business because you'll have to go inspect the cables yearly, and repeat the end weight reduction as the tree grows.

You'll also need soe chafe sleeve, wire tape, and some kind of fid to install the cable. It's pretty easy. You will likely be fine with one cable, but two makes the homeowner feel better.

If the homeowner is intent on removing it I would recommend removing the whole tree.

I didnt think of cabling!! Thanks!!!

The homeowner does not want to lose the tree and I think taking that lead leaves to much risk of losing the entire thing. I will bring this up as an option!


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
 

colb

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida
I didnt think of cabling!! Thanks!!!

The homeowner does not want to lose the tree and I think taking that lead leaves to much risk of losing the entire thing. I will bring this up as an option!


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
Removing the lead at the base would introduce decay to the base of the tree, right? You need a waiver from them to do that and I would not do it since the remaining leader seems to have established lean in the same direction. In ten years your client could have a mess on their hands.

Reduction pruning on the leader closest to the house is good no matter what else you do. Do you have the ANSI A300 Part 1 Pruning standard and the accompanying Best Management Practices booklet? Those will likely lead you to write a specification to make 3-5 cuts in <4" diameter branch wood.

It would be great to chip the branches and mulch the tree with the chips - 3" thick of mulch, with the mulch 3-6 inches removed from the root flair itself. Here is a link to literature describing the benefits of mulching with fresh arborist chips:


You may want to vet your client for long-term commitment capacity. If they seem good for it, consider a synthetic polymer cable, which lasts for about a decade on my brand label or until the tree outgrows it. The specifications for Branch Saver include a 30 inch bury after you've spliced each side with a teardrop shape, so you need ~80 inches of distance between those two leaders. There are other synthetic polymer cabling materials on the market - Yale makes one and so does Notch. Their specifications are each different and you may want to choose the cabling material based off of the specification that makes the most sense to you. If the clients seem like they might forget, die, or move, talk to them about metal cabling instead. Also look into metal cabling if there is not enough room to install synthetic polymer cabling. 5/16ths EHS metal cable is a pretty common size/material, but some guys prefer the non-ehs that they can splice. There is not a consensus about the best way to terminate metal cables. I use Endz terminations with EHS. Rig Guy and Wedgegrips are other options to use with EHS. Do you have the ANSI A300 Part 3 supplemental support systems standard and the accompanying Best Management Practices booklet? Those will protect you from liability and your client/client's tree from a bad installation. Make sure that you include the phrase "to provide additional support" in your specification to indicate that the cable is part of the structural system and does not guarantee against failure even if properly installed. Make sure you know whether you need to pretension your system and how much. The word "taut" sometimes comes up in the ANSI standard, particularly for all metal cable installations which are intrinsically weak in the dimension of shock loading and strong in terms of tensile strength. The manufacturer of synthetic polymer cable may have a "tautness" clause specific to their product that is or is not at odds with your synthetic cabling objective.

You mention that there is no bark inclusion at the base - good work noting that. There will be an inclusion as the diameters of the two trunks increase. Additionally, the aspect ratio is okay - could be better, could be worse. It is easy and thus cost effective to install bracing rods at the base using that ANSI A300 Part 3 to guide the way. I do not have an opinion about whether bracing rods should be installed. It may be good to communicate the benefits and drawbacks to your client about installing bracing rods so that they can make that decision. Or, you may feel like it is not worth mentioning. You'll want a big drill - probaby a superhawg that you can borrow from someone until you can buy your own. Be careful about using a big drill without a clutch, e.g. a hole hawg - you can injure your thumb. A corded big drill needs a very large gauge cord, so try to turf up a lithium drill.

hth, you are starting out with a good mindset.
 

colb

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida
It's really hard to imagine that there is not a bark inclusion at the base. I want to trust your judgement on that and I cannot see it. The very acute angle just makes it look unlikely that there is no inclusion. It's your place to determine that.
 

laddo

Member
Location
New Orleans, LA
Removing the lead at the base would introduce decay to the base of the tree, right? You need a waiver from them to do that and I would not do it since the remaining leader seems to have established lean in the same direction. In ten years your client could have a mess on their hands.

Reduction pruning on the leader closest to the house is good no matter what else you do. Do you have the ANSI A300 Part 1 Pruning standard and the accompanying Best Management Practices booklet? Those will likely lead you to write a specification to make 3-5 cuts in
It would be great to chip the branches and mulch the tree with the chips - 3" thick of mulch, with the mulch 3-6 inches removed from the root flair itself. Here is a link to literature describing the benefits of mulching with fresh arborist chips:


You may want to vet your client for long-term commitment capacity. If they seem good for it, consider a synthetic polymer cable, which lasts for about a decade on my brand label or until the tree outgrows it. The specifications for Branch Saver include a 30 inch bury after you've spliced each side with a teardrop shape, so you need ~80 inches of distance between those two leaders. There are other synthetic polymer cabling materials on the market - Yale makes one and so does Notch. Their specifications are each different and you may want to choose the cabling material based off of the specification that makes the most sense to you. If the clients seem like they might forget, die, or move, talk to them about metal cabling instead. Also look into metal cabling if there is not enough room to install synthetic polymer cabling. 5/16ths EHS metal cable is a pretty common size/material, but some guys prefer the non-ehs that they can splice. There is not a consensus about the best way to terminate metal cables. I use Endz terminations with EHS. Rig Guy and Wedgegrips are other options to use with EHS. Do you have the ANSI A300 Part 3 supplemental support systems standard and the accompanying Best Management Practices booklet? Those will protect you from liability and your client/client's tree from a bad installation. Make sure that you include the phrase "to provide additional support" in your specification to indicate that the cable is part of the structural system and does not guarantee against failure even if properly installed. Make sure you know whether you need to pretension your system and how much. The word "taut" sometimes comes up in the ANSI standard, particularly for all metal cable installations which are intrinsically weak in the dimension of shock loading and strong in terms of tensile strength. The manufacturer of synthetic polymer cable may have a "tautness" clause specific to their product that is or is not at odds with your synthetic cabling objective.

You mention that there is no bark inclusion at the base - good work noting that. There will be an inclusion as the diameters of the two trunks increase. Additionally, the aspect ratio is okay - could be better, could be worse. It is easy and thus cost effective to install bracing rods at the base using that ANSI A300 Part 3 to guide the way. I do not have an opinion about whether bracing rods should be installed. It may be good to communicate the benefits and drawbacks to your client about installing bracing rods so that they can make that decision. Or, you may feel like it is not worth mentioning. You'll want a big drill - probaby a superhawg that you can borrow from someone until you can buy your own. Be careful about using a big drill without a clutch, e.g. a hole hawg - you can injure your thumb. A corded big drill needs a very large gauge cord, so try to turf up a lithium drill.

hth, you are starting out with a good mindset.

If there were an award for relevant and helpful comments, I would nominate you, sir. Lol.
I do not have the actual booklets but I am familiar with the standards and they are the standards that I employ daily on every job. I always tell myself I’ll buy them on my next order but I never do. I will this next time haha!

I wonder if the cobra cabling system would work here? The customers certainly have the budget for long term financial support and I dont see them going anywhere any time soon. They are installing a $30k plus backyard next month (I think this is their retirement home).

Would the bracing option be in addition to cabling or in lieu of?


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
 

laddo

Member
Location
New Orleans, LA
It's really hard to imagine that there is not a bark inclusion at the base. I want to trust your judgement on that and I cannot see it. The very acute angle just makes it look unlikely that there is no inclusion. It's your place to determine that.

Dude I know! I assumed there would be too! I am going back over there this week to discuss options with the customer and will try to remember to take a picture.


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
 

laddo

Member
Location
New Orleans, LA
And I’m serious about ordering the booklets this time. Especially if I plan on getting into the world of cabling and bracing. Obviously there is much more to it than I originally anticipated. And I want to do things 100% the right way. For my customer, and for my self.
It was a good decision to come to The Buzz first


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
 

colb

Well-Known Member
Location
Florida
If there were an award for relevant and helpful comments, I would nominate you, sir. Lol.
I do not have the actual booklets but I am familiar with the standards and they are the standards that I employ daily on every job. I always tell myself I’ll buy them on my next order but I never do. I will this next time haha!

I wonder if the cobra cabling system would work here? The customers certainly have the budget for long term financial support and I dont see them going anywhere any time soon. They are installing a $30k plus backyard next month (I think this is their retirement home).

Would the bracing option be in addition to cabling or in lieu of?


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
The Buzz helps me, I try to help The Buzzers. Thanks.

For supplemental support installations, it is almost impossible to install them according to standard without the ANSI A300 Part 3 and accompanying BMP for reference. They are pretty cheap.

The Cobra cabling may work. I do not use it. I noted varying outcomes (perhaps driven by installation error?) on whether trees were girdled or not. I know there are some guys who install it and feel like it is great and I defer to them. I know the Branch Saver-type cabling is easy to work with, and there are also pictures of Branch Saver-type cabling girdling trees. I am going back to my first Branch Saver installation this winter to replace it after 5 years. It is fine, but now is too snug and a bit too low as well since the tree was still growing vertically. I am installing metal cabling this time, as high as I can justify. These installations are often unique, so do what works for you, your client, and the tree.

It is highly irregular to brace without cabling in emergent shade trees. Sometimes people will brace without cabling in ornamental trees like bradford pears. Cabling without bracing is normal, if the union between the two leaders is a good structure. Usually, "being a good structure" means that the union is not too acute (with bark inclusion) and is less codominant/one is well subordinated to the other. However, some professionals that I respect greatly are fine with acute junctions as long as the tree is growing wound wood around it. This is another area where there is not consensus, or where the consensus may be misguided if it is not based on empirical research. There is some research that I have not read through that I am led to understand looks at outcomes of acute junctions and finds that they are often stronger because of the wound wood that the tree grows around the bark inclusion to compensate for the wound. If you buy into that, you might look for the presence of substantial wound wood bulging out on *both* sides of the union.

hth
 

Zacchaeus

Member
Location
Jasper
Judging just off that one picture: I'd definitely do a reduction on BOTH stems. Reduction on the taller stem on left will give more light to the lower right stem, thereby decreasing the amount it has to reach out to get light and thus keep leverage on the attachment point low.
Also, if there IS a branch bark ridge, do NOT install a brace. That's needlessly wounding the base. If there is a BBR, then axillary wood is forming inside and it's plenty strong, especially with a good reduction of tip weight in the crown. A cable? Maybe. Again, if it does have BBR, then I'd do a dynamic cable, definitely NOT a static, to allow movement but prevent total failure. Otherwise a constant "crutch" will only weaken the tree's natural reactionary forces.
Just my opinions. Take em or leave em.

Check out Dr. Duncan Slater (from Myerscough College, UK). He's done lots of excellent research with branch junctions. His research may blow your mind. As @colb mentioned "However, some professionals that I respect greatly are fine with acute junctions as long as the tree is growing wound wood around it. This is another area where there is not consensus, or where the consensus may be misguided if it is not based on empirical research. There is some research that I have not read through that I am led to understand looks at outcomes of acute junctions and finds that they are often stronger because of the wound wood that the tree grows around the bark inclusion to compensate for the wound. If you buy into that, you might look for the presence of substantial wound wood bulging out on *both* sides of the union." Dr. Slater has noted that trees with bark inclusions but "big ears" of reaction wood rarely split out. I've learned a lot from his work.

Many times we want to overmedicate our patients with complex fixes when the solution is simple. Provide simple ways for the patient to "do what it knows". Trees are better at knowing where to support themselves than we are...
Also, as @colb mentioned, mulching the rootzone is always a win.
 

cerviarborist

Very stable member
Location
Florida, USA
I learned a long time ago to neutralize what the customer asks for. They typically don't know anything about tree dynamics, so what they're really asking you to do is to mitigate the risk of that limb coming down on them. If you've got an ingrown toenail, you don't amputate the foot.

This is your opportunity to respond with what you know about tree dynamics and risk mitigation. If it's not your forte, then refer out to an arborist with deep tree risk assessment and mitigation experience, and explain that they'll be able to put together a management plan for you to execute.
 

laddo

Member
Location
New Orleans, LA
Judging just off that one picture: I'd definitely do a reduction on BOTH stems. Reduction on the taller stem on left will give more light to the lower right stem, thereby decreasing the amount it has to reach out to get light and thus keep leverage on the attachment point low.
Also, if there IS a branch bark ridge, do NOT install a brace. That's needlessly wounding the base. If there is a BBR, then axillary wood is forming inside and it's plenty strong, especially with a good reduction of tip weight in the crown. A cable? Maybe. Again, if it does have BBR, then I'd do a dynamic cable, definitely NOT a static, to allow movement but prevent total failure. Otherwise a constant "crutch" will only weaken the tree's natural reactionary forces.
Just my opinions. Take em or leave em.

Check out Dr. Duncan Slater (from Myerscough College, UK). He's done lots of excellent research with branch junctions. His research may blow your mind. As @colb mentioned "However, some professionals that I respect greatly are fine with acute junctions as long as the tree is growing wound wood around it. This is another area where there is not consensus, or where the consensus may be misguided if it is not based on empirical research. There is some research that I have not read through that I am led to understand looks at outcomes of acute junctions and finds that they are often stronger because of the wound wood that the tree grows around the bark inclusion to compensate for the wound. If you buy into that, you might look for the presence of substantial wound wood bulging out on *both* sides of the union." Dr. Slater has noted that trees with bark inclusions but "big ears" of reaction wood rarely split out. I've learned a lot from his work.

Many times we want to overmedicate our patients with complex fixes when the solution is simple. Provide simple ways for the patient to "do what it knows". Trees are better at knowing where to support themselves than we are...
Also, as @colb mentioned, mulching the rootzone is always a win.

I like it


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
 

laddo

Member
Location
New Orleans, LA
Welp! Customers.....what ya gonna do?

I presented dynamic cabling as an option but pushed for reduction while explaining reactionary growth and wood dynamics as best as I could. I just found out today that they decided to go with an uninsured, unlicensed person who is charging $350 to remove and haul off the leader over the house. Lol


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
 

Lignotuber

New Member
Location
Socal
The Buzz helps me, I try to help The Buzzers. Thanks.

For supplemental support installations, it is almost impossible to install them according to standard without the ANSI A300 Part 3 and accompanying BMP for reference. They are pretty cheap.

The Cobra cabling may work. I do not use it. I noted varying outcomes (perhaps driven by installation error?) on whether trees were girdled or not. I know there are some guys who install it and feel like it is great and I defer to them. I know the Branch Saver-type cabling is easy to work with, and there are also pictures of Branch Saver-type cabling girdling trees. I am going back to my first Branch Saver installation this winter to replace it after 5 years. It is fine, but now is too snug and a bit too low as well since the tree was still growing vertically. I am installing metal cabling this time, as high as I can justify. These installations are often unique, so do what works for you, your client, and the tree.

It is highly irregular to brace without cabling in emergent shade trees. Sometimes people will brace without cabling in ornamental trees like bradford pears. Cabling without bracing is normal, if the union between the two leaders is a good structure. Usually, "being a good structure" means that the union is not too acute (with bark inclusion) and is less codominant/one is well subordinated to the other. However, some professionals that I respect greatly are fine with acute junctions as long as the tree is growing wound wood around it. This is another area where there is not consensus, or where the consensus may be misguided if it is not based on empirical research. There is some research that I have not read through that I am led to understand looks at outcomes of acute junctions and finds that they are often stronger because of the wound wood that the tree grows around the bark inclusion to compensate for the wound. If you buy into that, you might look for the presence of substantial wound wood bulging out on *both* sides of the union.

hth
With regards to bulging wood (that's what she said) I believe if it's reaction wood (compression or tension) it would be a good sign but when it's bulging at sides of the union it's often indicative of pressure within a bark inclusion. Could have sworn I heard Ed Gilman say something about that but maybe I'm totally wrong and mixing sources.
 

swingdude

De' Island Buzzer
Location
Barbados
Welp! Customers.....what ya gonna do?

I presented dynamic cabling as an option but pushed for reduction while explaining reactionary growth and wood dynamics as best as I could. I just found out today that they decided to go with an uninsured, unlicensed person who is charging $350 to remove and haul off the leader over the house. Lol


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
Welcome to the world of Treelife. Be prepared to encounter many more of these types. Get good at spotting them and folk of similar ilk. It will save many hours of your precious time.
 

Redtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Mt. Albert
Welp! Customers.....what ya gonna do?

I presented dynamic cabling as an option but pushed for reduction while explaining reactionary growth and wood dynamics as best as I could. I just found out today that they decided to go with an uninsured, unlicensed person who is charging $350 to remove and haul off the leader over the house. Lol


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
it doesn't matter. you still learned a lot by looking into it and learning from all the great feedback. You didn't get the job but you still win. Plus you lost a customer you don't want. You'd rather return clients anyway, wouldn't you?
As for cabling I think a lot of hammering on this thread without hitting the nail on the head.
cobra or anything not steel is flawed imo. Cobra is the only one I'm familiar with but can any boast the longevity of steel. friction, sun, animal damage, render synthetic far inferior imo. And dynamic does not mean the tree can still move to a point anywhere close to the level needed to have reaction growth stimulation through wood tension/compression, that it had without a cable. Dynamic just means shock load absorption for the sake of preserving the strength of the system and possibly avoiding the karate effect, which I think is highly unlikely anyway.
Why would you install something that needs so much attention and lasts maybe 10 to 30 years being generous, when steel lasts 40 years or more. And drilling a 3/8 hole through a tree for Wirestop is probably easier on the tree than a 2" pruning cut. The tensioning effect of girdling with cobra is far more invasive. Never, have I seen a steel cable cause harm to a tree. I use through hardware but will likely move to Wirestop. So much easier to drill the smaller hole. Theoretically could be less invasive but I doubt it.
is steel cable installation stress/invasive to the tree? no. It's stress on the tree guy. just because cobra is easier to install?
Otherwise for argument sake, I like the idea reduce both stems, possible cable, steel of some sort. Dynamic vs static is negligible imo. Other factors are more important.

Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk
 

laddo

Member
Location
New Orleans, LA
it doesn't matter. you still learned a lot by looking into it and learning from all the great feedback. You didn't get the job but you still win. Plus you lost a customer you don't want. You'd rather return clients anyway, wouldn't you?
As for cabling I think a lot of hammering on this thread without hitting the nail on the head.
cobra or anything not steel is flawed imo. Cobra is the only one I'm familiar with but can any boast the longevity of steel. friction, sun, animal damage, render synthetic far inferior imo. And dynamic does not mean the tree can still move to a point anywhere close to the level needed to have reaction growth stimulation through wood tension/compression, that it had without a cable. Dynamic just means shock load absorption for the sake of preserving the strength of the system and possibly avoiding the karate effect, which I think is highly unlikely anyway.
Why would you install something that needs so much attention and lasts maybe 10 to 30 years being generous, when steel lasts 40 years or more. And drilling a 3/8 hole through a tree for Wirestop is probably easier on the tree than a 2" pruning cut. The tensioning effect of girdling with cobra is far more invasive. Never, have I seen a steel cable cause harm to a tree. I use through hardware but will likely move to Wirestop. So much easier to drill the smaller hole. Theoretically could be less invasive but I doubt it.
is steel cable installation stress/invasive to the tree? no. It's stress on the tree guy. just because cobra is easier to install?
Otherwise for argument sake, I like the idea reduce both stems, possible cable, steel of some sort. Dynamic vs static is negligible imo. Other factors are more important.

Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk

You’re making some good points! I need to look into what the catalysts for reactionary growth are now!


• Aim High, Climb Trees •
 

Redtree

Well-Known Member
Location
Mt. Albert
The following is what I think, not certainty. damage causes reaction growth. Tension and compression in wood or wounding. As for cabling steel vs dynamic, I think there is a negligible difference functionally initially and regarding reaction growth. In both cases, the limb separation is limited to basically nothing. The dynamic reduces shock loading. So? Steel is stronger longer and doesn't need the shock resistance. In both cases there is still a semi synchronized sway to the fork or weakness which will still experience significant forces. So the fact that through hardware of sorts works just as well initially to accomplish the goal, and lasts longest, puts it far out in first place. To the point where cobra and others is very rarely a better option.

Sent from my SM-G930W8 using Tapatalk
 

New threads New posts

Kask Stihl NORTHEASTERN Arborists Wesspur TreeStuff.com Kask Teufelberger Westminster X-Rigging Teufelberger Tracked Lifts Climbing Innovations
Top Bottom