Tree staking and guying systems must be checked and adjusted frequently to be certain that they are not causing tree damage. Guyed or staked trees that are under 4 inches in diameter should have the guying/staking materials removed after one complete growing season. Trees 4 inches in diameter and larger should have the guying/staking hardware checked every 12 to 18 months for re-adjustment or removal. Planting contracts should have the guarantee specifications state these stipulations.
Evergreen trees in particular should be routinely evaluated as above because the guying and staking hardware becomes increasingly hidden as the trees put on new growth. Often times with the evergreens the only sign of trouble is when the top ½ or 2/3 of the tree starts to die or is very sparse and/or off color.
As indicated, often times the above routine procedures haven’t been followed and a potential life threatening/girdling situation has been identified.
Bolt or side cutters depending on the wire/hardware’s size can be used if the offending materials are not too deeply imbedded in the tree trunk bark. The most important action to accomplish is breaking the girdling “tourniquet connection”.
It is not necessary to always completely remove the entire girdling wire or hardware from the trunk. In many cases, where the materials have been over looked for a long time, they may be so deeply imbedded in the trunk that complete removal would cause additional girdling damage. Where this scenario exists, even a sharp cold chisel can be used to sever the connection. Of course this depends on having sufficient striking hammer travel as one strikes the chisel end. Adjacent branch pruning may be required to accomplish this.
Once the offending wire or hardware is severed, the “stranglehold” will be relieved. In time the tree will grow over and absorb the materials remaining……………IF the “repair” is not too late and the tree survives.
Obviously, as with most problem situations, an ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of cure.
Harold Hoover, Kramer Tree Specialists, Board Certified Master Arborist