What not to do

Usually, we get to see and read about properly applied techniques. Recently I had an opportunity to work on a tree that exhibited some mistakes that can be made when employing commonly-used techniques. More importantly, here is the result after a few years to see why it’s important to avoid these mistakes.

1. Too-tightly wired. Wire should be applied in wider coils, around 60 degrees from parallel to the branch, and just a bit looser than this. Why?
-It allows sap to flow more easily
-It prevents girdling (see how the bark swelled up around the wires)
-It allows the wire to stay on the tree longer before it digs in
-It has stronger holding power than tightly-coiled wires

While it is a matter of personal preference, copper wire is stiffer than aluminum, so a thinner wire can be used and have the same holding power as thicker aluminum, and it will go on a bit looser to begin with.

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Compare it with this white pine, also wired two years ago, also kept in the same collection, but wired with copper, using wider coils, not as tightly to begin with. It’s barely digging in at this point.

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2. Branches were twisted into contorted shapes to get foliage pads in the right place “for now”. While the immediate result may be acceptable, wiring is usually done with a longer-term goal in mind. Pines get leggy, and shoots can be placed anywhere to create pads, but ideally, branches are wired out in fan-shaped layers. In this case, shoots were twisted to compact the design, and now the problem still exists, growth is even further from the trunk, and the shoots are contorted. What is needed is back-budding or grafting to create a long-term solution.

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3. Wrong gauge of wire (too thin or too thick)
The right size of wire is thick enough to hold the bends, and thin enough to allow proper manipulation of the branch. When wire is too thin, often times more wire is necessary. This means:
-wasted wire
-unsightly work
-more potential damage than necessary with multiple wires

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Too thin a wire means no holding power:

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Conversely, too thick a wire can make it difficult or damaging to place a branch.

4. Guy-wires applied without padding. Guy wires are an important tool in styling trees, but like all tools, proper use is the difference between success and failure. Here, padding was used on the top end of the guy wire, but not on the bottom end. Like all these examples, it’s good to see the results. He is the root with the wire more than halfway embedded:

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And here is the top end where aquarium tubing was used to cushion the branch. This is fascinating to me…how much difference this small piece of tubing makes. Will you ever go without? Not me!

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3 thoughts on “What not to do

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