Saving a Split Tree?

August 13, 2007

Split TreeI have a big beautiful poplar tree in my back yard. It is the only shade that we receive but I have a problem. There is a major split going right down the middle of the trunk right down to the ground. I'm scared that one day I will wake up and find both sides down on the ground. Is there any way to save my tree?



August 13, 20070 found this helpful
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You should never put anything all the way around a tree, you will girdle it, you will cut off the flow of its juices. one thing you could possibly do is get a real long lag bolts drill from one side of the tree to the other and bolted it back together.
I do suggest that to call out an arborist, because this could be sign of a disease or bug problem and it's going to die if that isn't resolved, Good luck

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By Bronna (Guest Post)
August 13, 20070 found this helpful
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Popular trees are not very sturdy trees and tend to not live to many years from our experience. I had a tree that the deer had shined their antlers on and had done some damage. I used the following recipe and that was 4 years ago and my tree is doing fine.


1/2 cup of interior latex paint.
1/2 cup of antiseptic mouthwash such as Listerine
1 teaspon of "Pest Control" I use the spray we spray in and around our house for bugs.
Mix together and paint the wound to keep bugs and worms from doing more damage. Hope this works for you.

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September 21, 20110 found this helpful
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Please be careful if it will damage something then cut the l/2 off that would fall on house and you could try to save the other half but I wouldn't take the chance because it will fall and lag bolts won't hold it or boards. It is a brittle tree. But on the other hand your agriculture or farm agent can tell you maybe something better but do it before a big wind please.

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6 More Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

July 17, 2008


Can a split dogwood tree trunk be mended from tornado wind damage. It has a 2 inch trunk and is 6 feet tall. The trunk is split half way through. Can it be saved? Can it be bound in any way?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Dianne G from Augusta, GA



With all of the terrible storms this spring and summer, this question has been coming up a lot. In my opinion (and I'm not a trained arborist) when a tree experiences severe damage like a trunk that is split halfway through, it has been severely weakened and the sap line compromised. Because this opens the door for future trouble, trees suffering this type of damage should be removed 99% of the time.


However, you need to ask yourself whether the tree would still look attractive and be of value if you went ahead and tried to make the repairs. The tree's age (younger trees do tend to rebound better), its location, sentimental value, and growth rate (dogwood's have a medium growth rate) all need to be considered. When you take into account all of these additional factors, does it seem more desirable to replace the tree as soon as possible, or to try to repair it and hope for the best?

Trees with split trunks may be salvaged if the split is not too extensive. Repairing this type of damage usually involves using braces and/or cables and is best left to trained professionals. My advice is to call a professional arborist or tree service in your area and request on on-site assessment of your situation. It's the only way you'll ever know for sure, and many offer free estimates on repair or removal costs.


If you decide to go ahead and try to save your tree, here is some information on repairing split trunks.

Good luck!


May 17, 20080 found this helpful
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I saw a segment of "This Old House' where they used large bolts {drilled through first} cris-crossed through the tree and screws that were tightened into the tree. An arborist did this on the show. Good luck!

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February 6, 20130 found this helpful
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Yes, use a ratchet strap an pull the halves toghter. Measure the length of both trees. Run to hardware store to get threaded rod.


Drill through both trees, bolt together, release ratchet strap. Ready rod used was 3/4 inch and it's still living.

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June 3, 2019

Is it possible to save a split Texas ash tree? It is 10 years old and I don't want to lose it. I am trimming back the other limbs and hope that will remove enough weight from the trunk to give it time to heal.

Should I band the trunk together? What about sealing the cuts?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
June 4, 20190 found this helpful

If the trunk has split the chances of survival are slim.

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Silver Answer Medal for All Time! 425 Answers
June 9, 20190 found this helpful

You can try drilling a hole through the center of the split that will accommodate a long bolt, and draw the split together as best you can. Make sure to put a smallish piece of metal or large washer under the head of the bolt, as well as between the bolt and washer & nut on the other end.


If it's a long split, you may have to do this in a couple spots to reinforce the split tree. If you really want to try to save this tree, give it a can't hurt! As far as sealing the split, let the tree do any scabbing over that it will.

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June 10, 20190 found this helpful

Thank you

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March 13, 2015

My beautiful October Glory maple had two main trunks. In a windstorm,one broke off. The tree looks healthy and has since grown new small branches that at filling in the gap. However, I have found that where the trunk broke off there has developed a 4-5 inch well that holds rain and seems to be rotting around the edges. Should I try to fill the hole with concrete to prevent the hole from filling with rainwater or future insects, or do you have a good recommendation to save this tree?

By Peggy B


Bronze Answer Medal for All Time! 220 Answers
March 15, 20150 found this helpful

Suggest you consult with an arborist or tree company or a local nursery for help. Not sure if cement is appropriate or will not encourage rot.

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Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 131 Feedbacks
March 16, 20150 found this helpful

I think that until you take a decision, you should in the meantime empty the well that holds the rain and try to get it dry. If you can't do it with a pump you can try to take a piece of cotton material and put one end in the water of the well and let the other end hang town the trunk at a level lower than the bottom of the well this should pump away a good part of the water. Once you have managed to get the well quite dry you can fill it with Stockholm tar or lineseed oil or a mixture of the two.

Stockholm tar is not chemical it is pine tar, we use it to protect the wood when grafting a rose tree or a tree. Stockholm tar is also used by vets to treat the splits in the hoofs of horses or donkeys it is also used in the construction of boats. Lineseed oil will harden the wood and protect it from water. This should stop the humidity from going down in the wood of your tree.

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September 21, 2006


I have a three year old Crape Myrtle (Tonto) that has a fork at it's base. The tree split and fell to the ground due to the weight of the water from sprinkling. I staked the split back together with heavy duty wire. Is there a type of wrap that I can use to possibly save my tree? There are three main branches that go into the ground. The tree is approximately four feet high. Although the tree is split, the main branch is still intact. I desperately want to save this tree. Thanks.

Hardiness Zone: 7a

Larry from Princess Anne, MD


Hi Larry,

Sorry to hear about your tree. I'm not aware of any wraps for repairing splits. It impossible to say whether or not your tree can be saved, but from your description, the damage sounds quite extensive. By "main branch is still intact" do you mean the trunk? I hope so, because if the main trunk of your tree is split, the odds of it surviving are minimal at best. If over 30 to 50 percent of the main branches or trunk are severely split, broken, or mutilated, it's probably a lost cause. Your tree is small, so even the smallest damage can have a large effect. Still, if you're really attached to the tree, get some advice from a tree expert.

Ellen's awful tree story: When I moved into my current home, there was a gorgeous towering silver maple in the front yard. The tree was probably near the end of its 130 year lifespan and the trunk was split and being held together by cables. Despite that, it appeared to be healthy and beautiful in every way. The tree seemed like a guardian to our new home and it quickly became our favorite. Before we moved in our Home Inspector said the tree might be a safety hazard (especially to our neighbor's garage) and suggested that we have it removed. We called for an onsite assessment from a tree expert, who ultimately concluded there was no way of knowing just how long it would hold up to high winds or Midwest winters. We love this tree so much, we decided to take our chances. One year later we lost a "healthy" tree in our backyard to an ice storm. It fell on our neighbor's house (the other neighbors). A year after that, it happened again (same house, another "healthy" tree). I'm not kidding. After that ordeal (thank goodness for gracious neighbors), we decided that we better take down the maple with the cables. To our horror, while taking it down we discovered that the trunk was in fact, healthy. It probably would have lived for another decade or two (I cried for two days). Meanwhile, we discovered that the trunks of our two "healthy" trees had been diseased.

My advice? Call a tree expert. Before you agree to any heroic efforts, read this article entitled, "Can These Trees Be Saved?" by the National Arbor Day Foundation.

It will help you determine whether or not it's worth it.



By Lynda (Guest Post)
August 3, 20060 found this helpful

Having so many Crepe Myrtles, I'd be inclined to
make CERTAIN the direct watering is corrected because the tree PREFERS longer periods of drying out, like a week between waterings.

I'd also let the damaged trunk go because they produce so many suckers that you will easily be able to replace it. The fork needs airing, and the wound needs healing, but the tree does NOT need wiring, ever, since wiring cuts into the outer layers which are essential to the tree's health. Don't fret if the other
two trunk branches are a bit older. The new branches will easily catch up with them. Four feet tall is still just a baby tree and you will do it a favor by
not giving it more than once a week deep watering,
but note: Do NOT plant it within 15 feet of a foundation, brick fence or concrete walk because the
trees can get as large as 20 feet tall and 4-6 foot
bases full of "trunks" if you desire or do not watch
it carefully, removing any unwanted stems as they
pop up.

They produce LOVELY trunk bark over time.
Remember also that the best blooms come with regular fertilizer, less watering, and fewer branches,
pruning each one as the bloom finishes and dries out, but not cutting more than that on each stem,
other than dead wood which ALWAYS is evident each

Pruning is best done in the Fall and Spring, and know that in the South, at least, even though they are late bloomers, they bloom their hearts out with PROPER care (as opposed to too MUCH care),
watching also to remove slowly any powdery mildewed leaves and stems into a paper sack, because it is the sign of too wet or too dry conditions and each puff of the mildew spores will spread to another leaf. If done correctly no other chemical or treatment is required. If not, I believe Streptomycin for plants is the only cure.

I had to learn the hard way to be patient and NOT give the plant too much "blooming food" because it stresses the plant out. I do give it to the plant about every other year, however.

I have single branched trees, and trees with five to seven main branched trunks. I have NOT been successful keeping the so-called "weeping mini-crepes" small OR weeping, because they always seem to want to become larger and upright. They do best in full sun and moderately
fertile soil mixed with compost and some sand or
light gravel for good drainage. They will grow but not well in Black Clay soil as my state is famous for.

They do NOT make good cut flowers, in case you
wondered, do NOT have significant fragrance, AND they can be VERY MESSY as the flowers are profuse and drop daily all season once blooming.
Good luck and God bless.

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By Kathie from Kansas. (Guest Post)
August 20, 20080 found this helpful

We have a big Hackberry that is splitting due to the ice storm. I have four, four inch straps on it now that seem to be working but need to be sure. The split is not big and the tree is still together in the fork of the tree is where it starts. If I have to have it removed our back yard shade will be gone. Is there anything else we can do to make it a stronger support?(

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September 17, 2011

Can a split poplar tree be saved?

By Irma from Round Rock, TX

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May 31, 2020

Saving a tree with a broken main trunk may be possible. The rotting portion can be removed and the the cut sealed. However, this is not always successful and sometimes the tree must be cut down.

A tree with a broken main trunk.

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