Broken tree branches: should you repair them or cut them off?

branche d'arbre cassée

Heavy snowfall, ice and strong winds have been making life difficult for our trees for several years now. In the spring, it isn’t uncommon to find a fair share of broken forks, torn bark and split branches. But what should you do about a broken tree branch? Can you treat it or do you have to cut it off? One thing’s for sure: whatever you do, you need to do it quickly.

Trees on trial

Aside from the whims of Mother Nature, there are other factors that could be at the root of a broken limb:

  • The structure of the tree: the angle at which the branch meets the tree
  • The thickness of the tree
  • The location of the tree
  • The general condition of the tree
  • The rooting of the tree and the type of soil
  • Changes in the tree’s environment: felling of adjacent trees, excavation work near the roots, etc.

The most common causes of breakage are wind and the constitution of the tree. In fact, the wind will often break branches that have become fragile as a result of structural defects.

Broken branches can be healed

Contrary to what you might think, a damaged branch doesn’t automatically have to be cut off. In certain cases, it’s possible to treat the injury in such a way that the tree is able to heal itself.

Bracing: a solution of choice for saving your tree

What is bracing? It’s a procedure in which rigid or flexible grafting bands are used to consolidate or reinforce the weak parts of a tree branch or trunk. When it isn’t necessary to trim or cut down a tree, you can use this technique, as long as the tree isn’t in a location where it could damage nearby buildings, trees or other plants if the repair doesn’t hold.

By using grafting bands, you avoid having to cut down a healthy tree or cut off its branches just because certain parts of it are fragile or cracked. This procedure allows you to reinforce the structure of the tree and prevent the branches from breaking off completely.

Different types of grafting bands

Dynamic grafting bands adapt to the growth of the tree. The broken parts are aligned and held in place with polypropylene bands. The repair can last up to 12 years.

Rigid grafting bands are metallic cables that are attached to the tree using screws or rods. This technique is being employed less and less often, as it can cause long-term damage to the tree.

When a branch is (really) broken

It’s not the end of the world. If a branch is irreparably torn, all you have to do is cut it off at the base, being careful not to leave a stump. However, you don’t want to cut it too close, either, as this can damage the bark.

Broken tree branch? Call on a tree-trimming specialist!

Regular pruning greatly reduces the risks of breakage. For the best advice in tree trimming and arboriculture, you can trust the experienced team at Émondage SBP. For 15 years, we’ve been offering quick, efficient service, regardless of the season. You can count on our certified arborists to maintain the health of your trees!