Tree Propping Services: An Ontario Case Study

Tree propping services performed on a 200 year old Maple tree on the Briars Resort

from our article published in the March/April ISO Ontario Arborist Magazine

A propped Maple tree

A 200 yr old Maple tree on the Briars Resort, Lake Simcoe

Tree propping is a service that most arborists may undertake only very rarely, if at all during their careers, and yet this service may be going through something of a renaissance. Many arborists tend to think of tree propping as both unnecessary and a somewhat ineffective long-term solution. Surely we can prune to moderate defects and perhaps install a cable or brace to add some supplementary support? There are many reasons we might consider propping as an alternative to preserve an important tree. In this enlightened age of forest conservation and awareness of the value and significance of our heritage trees, preservation of old and relatively intact specimens is possible without the physiological shock of reduction pruning. Indeed, as a natural process of retrenchment, many older trees are likely to have lost their tops and often provide us with little opportunity to install cables. Here we share some details of a recent propping job we undertook in December.

Custom tree prop with saddle

Custom tree prop and saddle

Treescape Certified Arborists out of Ennismore recently undertook just such a task with one of our prestigious clients, The Briars Resort on Lake Simcoe. The tree in question, a magnificent sugar maple within the north parking lot, is reckoned to be around 200 years-old. General manager Hugh Sibbald and his family have a strong attachment to the tree and it is known and greatly admired by the local community and visitors alike. The tree has “endured” many well-intentioned interventions over its lifetime, including cavity filling with cement, bolting in the ‘50s, and being tapped for syrup for numerous years. The tree has even been sung to and hugged by an unnamed arborist in the ‘70s!

What we had to work with was basically a three-stemmed tree, where the centre stem had died leaving two heavily weighted stems on either side of a decayed main trunk. The tree literally wanted to fall in half and if it were to be retained at anything similar to its present grandeur, would need some form of support.


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