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Reader Dave wrote us concerning a tree in his backyard — it’s an old logic-problem-type issue that can really bake your noodle:

I need help in identifying what tool to use for this job: I have a tree (apple) that is bent and I plan on attaching a steel pipe to it to keep it straight for a year or so. The problem is getting the tree in a position to attach the pipe: I could use a ratcheting strap or come-along to get it close, but how can I get it the last 1-2 feet (the tree and pipe is only 3″ in diameter)?? It seems like there might be a device that given a loop of cable, it would pull the cable in to tighten the loop down to whatever diameter loop you wanted with force … any ideas?

I’m much better with wood when it’s in the lumber state of being. I possess the very unique gift of being able to turn any living plant dead in no time flat — it’s almost a superpower. With my limited knowledge I suggest a come-along hooked to the back end of a truck and looped back on itself, or perhaps two of them working together — one from the top of the tree and one at the bottom so you can adjust as the pipe is put into place.

However, if a tree’s big enough to go on the table saw, I tend to just call it “free lumber” and haul it inside the shop to begin its fabulous new life in the lumber bin — most of the time I laugh like a mad scientist for good measure. All you green-thumbed Toolmongers might offer some better advice.  How might Dave save his apple tree? Let us know in comments.

(Thanks to Outsanity Photos for the kick-ass pic.)


9 Responses to Reader Question: Sraightening The Apple Tree

  1. Bruce says:

    Um….Rope? If the tree is that thin, then a good bit of tugging on a rope wrapped about the tree and pipe should do the trick. Use a trucker’s hitch if need be, though I suspect your friendly neighborhood slip-knot could do it just as effectively

  2. Robert G says:

    How ’bout starting at the bottom and using a clamp to bring the tree against the post, then tying the tree to the post and continue as you work your way up.

  3. Waylan says:

    If you’re pulling the tree with a winch/racket type device, don’t attach the device to the pipe, but some other object farther way like a truck or tractor or another tree or building – you get the idea.

    Or, have the post a few feet from the tree and have a cable run between them. This might be more desirable as the pipe wouldn’t need to go down through the root system at the base of the trunk.

  4. John E. says:

    The only way I have seen it done is to use 1×1 by 5′ stakes, wire (I can’t guesstimate the gauge, but strong, and steel) and a waste 2′ section of water hose. Insert steel cable through hose, put hose around tree and twist tie the end around the stake. Now to tighten it the last few feet, insert stick in the loop, and twist. It will shorten the cable by wrapping around itself and keep tight once you have it where you want it.

    I would NOT recommend a come along or anything that you deem to be a “quick fix”. Let the tree grow into the state you want it to be in.

  5. TSpence says:

    How about using something like a ‘prusic’ type of setup but using a nylon strap in such a manner that the strap remains flat against the bark of the apple tree so as not to stress it too much.

    Maybe same ideas as already submitted but thought I would put my two cents in.


  6. jim says:

    Unfortunately, this is not a job for Tim Allen. If you want to keep the tree and I’m guessing you do, cables, come alongs and trucks will give you a sweet little stump and lots of firewood.
    As John. E. said, a 2′ or so piece of hose around the tree about two feet up and another about four feet up, with 1/4″ nylon rope through them secured to a couple of stakes about 6 or eight feet away will do a grand job. Cheap too.
    This is the way professionals do it.
    Every week or so, go out and tighten the rope some to *gradually* pull the tree upright.

  7. John Doe says:

    I do bonsai for a hobby, sometimes with very large plants. A 3″ diameter trunk should be no problem.

    The ‘gradual’ hint was a great one.

    But, warning: 1 layer of old garden hose as cushioning may not be enough, since you’ll be applying enough force to bend the trunk somewhat. Go for 2, maybe 3.

    And cushion all areas where the loop of wire or rope might contact the tree – the sides of the loop as well.

  8. Blair says:

    If you are worried about the hose not being enough cushion, simply add a piece of pre-slit pipe insulation over the top of it.

  9. dijital says:

    Do it gradually. If you try to force it straight immediately it will either break off or you will do damage to the internal structure.

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