Crack in Japanese Maple Tree
Q: I have a beautiful Japanese Maple, about 6 years old. It’s about 3 feet tall with a 3 foot spread.
I just discovered that the weight of all the snow we’ve had has caused a large crack in the tree, splitting it in half, about 4 inches deep.
Can anything at all be done about this or am I going to lose my tree?
A: If the crack is with the grain of the trunk, the tree will live a long time and not be affected by the split.
However, with the split there is weakness, so as time goes on the split may worsen and the tree may split completely open. Again, it will probably survive this, but it won't look very good.
You can place one or more "props" under the branches to help support them. This will help reduce the strain on the split.
A more advanced method to support the split would be to drill through the trunk perpendicular to the split and place a bolt through the trunk. Finish off each end with a washer and nut.
The diameter of the bolt should not be more than 1/6 the diameter of the trunk at the point you drill, so if the trunk is 3" in diameter at that point, the bolt should not be larger than 1/2" in diameter. Tighten the nuts only enough so that they are snug. You may wish to leave the props in place for a while even with the bolt.
The split will never go away (trees do not "heal"), so any props you install will have to remain forever. Due to this, choose your materials wisely so they blend in as much as possible.
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