First Aid for your Landscape



Ask us about mending your battered landscape... from winter snows and sudden summer storms, to mechanical damage, there are times when a little backyard first aid is in order.*  Heavy, incessant snowstorms are common in New England, often leaving an indelible mark on many of our treasured plants, especially on our ornamental trees.  As snow begins to melt near the ground, the heavy, wet upper layers of snow create further drag on the tops of many plants, particularly those with a weeping form.  This unfortunately results in much outright breakage and many partial splits.  

The bad news is that completely severed limbs will need to be pruned off, as they will not mend.  Be sure the resulting trunk wound is properly trimmed to an elliptical shape, bark edges are then smoothed, and wound paste applied.  The good news?  Mending split branches is easier than you may think, and is accomplished with a high degree of success.  

Procedure: Drill through both portions and insert a stainless steel or galvanized stove/carriage bolt & washer (bolt should be only slightly longer than the branch diameter, or total diameter of portions being reunited).  Attach another washer and nut, to secure the whole.  After bracing the weakened area, while bringing the split together, make sure any rough wound edges are smoothed.  To keep water from compromising the healing process, seal the top and edges with wound paste, NOT a tar-based tree paint/dressing.  Apply to wood around nuts and bolts as well.  We recommend Phytech 50, a blend of bees wax and lanolin.  This will also keep insects and disease at bay while healing continues.  After about a year, the wound paste sloughs off, leaving a strong union, well-healed.  Eventually, the bolt will disappear, as your tree continues to grow.  Such a well-mended split will actually become one of the strongest points on your tree.  

Note: Phytech 50 in the 1# tub is heated in the microwave for 30 seconds, resulting in a butter-like consistency, easy to spread.  Be especially thorough in sealing the edges... where smoothed bark edges meet cambium, you will observe a rolled callous forming over time.  Store the tub in a cool area and reheat as often as necessary to dress any future pruning wounds.  If using the tube, leave it in a sunny spot or place in warm water, to soften before use.  

Anyone contemplating such a major repair can become more familiar with proven techniques by viewing these YouTube "How to Repair Broken Branches YouTube" (local Dave Epstein, "Growing Wisdom").  "Repairing a Broken Fruit Tree Branch YouTube" (Extreme Tree Company).  Two from "How to repair a damaged tree using nuts and bolts YouTube" and for a follow up that shows the successful healing process, a year in, search "Yes, you can Fix a Broken Tree with Nuts and Bolts YouTube"

* Do not overextend yourself.  If the task is too large to handle safely, enlist the aid of a Massachusetts Certified Arborist, who may need to cable and otherwise brace that split tree or branch.  Also, beware the inherent dangers of unstable footing, especially in winter.

Corliss Culture Sheets written by Deb Lambert for Corliss Bros. Garden Center

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