How to Fix a Partially Broken Tree Limb

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Repair small tree limbs using glue and supports.
Repair small tree limbs using glue and supports. (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

When a tree is damaged, due to wind, storms or an accident, broken limbs do not necessarily signal the impending death of the tree. Trees have, much like humans, an “immunity” response to wounds, sealing vascular system vessels around the damaged area to prevent the spread of decay. As long as there are an adequate number of healthy limbs, the tree will recover, and as a homeowner, you should remove these damaged limbs to assist the tree’s healing process and prevent property damage or injury to neighbors and pets. Small limbs can be repaired, although these repairs only preserve the look and aesthetic of the tree and do not assist the tree in its own healing. Recruit a friend to assist with the repair.

Things You'll Need

  • Work gloves
  • Goggles
  • Chainsaw or hand saw
  • Ladder
  • Pruning shears
  • Chisel
  • Wood glue
  • Lengths of scrap wood, such as balsa
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Tarp

Put on work gloves and goggles.

Place the ladder, if necessary, against the tree to reach broken branches. Have your partner hold the ladder steady as you climb.

Remove larger broken branches, if necessary, using either the chainsaw or the hand saw, to make clean, straight cuts. Prune these branches to where they join other branches or a few inches from the trunk, and then use the chisel to smooth the ragged edges of the bark.

Climb down from ladder and set aside. Dispose of broken branches in trash or compost heap, or cut down for firewood, if desired.

Choose a split branch that can be repaired. This branch should be thin – no thicker than the diameter of an adult arm -- and within reach from the ground.

Prune some of the length from the end of the split branch, ensuring you leave a smooth, clean cut.

Coat the inside of the split liberally with wood glue -- and press the wound back together. Hold the split together tightly.

Continue to hold the split together firmly. Have your partner place a small length of the scrap wood below the split and secure it with a few nails gently hammered through the scrap wood into the tree branch.

Have your partner lay a second piece of scrap wood over the top of the split and secure with a few nails. These wood scraps create a brace that will support the branch in place as the wood glue dries.

Allow the glue to dry for three to four days. If necessary, protect the repairing branch from rain or high winds using a tarp loosely draped over and around it.

Remove nails, using the back of the hammer, and pull away wood braces. In a few months, the tree should grow new bark around the repair, rendering the seam invisible.

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