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Can a Split Tree be Saved?

A lot of places around the Puget Sound and Olympic Penninsula got some heavy snow this past week.

When snow lands on smaller trees and even larger ones, a tree can split causing damage and possibly needing removal. The picture above is actually from a local resident who had their Magnolia tree split right down the middle under all the snow this last weekend. So, can these trees be saved and what happens if your tree does split?

When a tree splits, it’s usually because its inner core is not that strong. The inner wood of the tree can become weak and if water and frost get into the center of the tree it could crack, expand, and split the bark or the entire tree or limb.

If it’s a large tree that has a dangerous branch hanging from it, it’s best to get a professional tree care provider to remove the lamb completely in a safe way. A tree service professional should be to look at the limb, tree trunk or branches to determine if it can be saved at all. Most of the branch has been completely severed from the trunk of the tree, chances are it cannot be saved and must be safely removed.

In the case of this Tulip tree or Magnolia tree, splitting right down the middle means it’s almost impossible for it to come back but it could regrow into separate trees as long as the root system is intact. Trees with split trunks may never actually heal but they can be propped up and bolted in position so they remain upright and not collapse any further.

Caring for a tree that’s been split does take a little bit of a green thumb and some specialized tree care tools. First, you want to make a hole through both branches about 24 inches above the split portion of the trunk. This whole will allow you to thread a steel rod through with ease. Install to steal nuts and washers onto the rod and hand tighten the nut a few turn so it’s threaded onto the rod. Then you can slowly turn the nuts of the branches come together and rejoin. While this is kind of a long shot, it is possible, especially if a lot of the branch is still attached to the tree trunk. Read more about caring for a split tree here.

Again, if this happens in winter it may be very difficult to determine any type of healing process until the spring. You’re not going to get any new growth on it until spring so you might consider waiting before pulling it out or removing the limb completely, however, it is important to either tie or bolt the limb back together if you plan on saving the tree.

If you are unsure about the safety or hazard of a split tree trunk or limb, call us anytime. We’d be happy to assess the situation and give you a professional opinion if the tree can be saved.