Tag Archives: ginkgo

Splinting

I visited a lovely back yard today. It belongs to our neighbors the Crouses.

(As our recent Tour of Gardens revealed, back yards are definitely where it’s at in Inman Park.)

Four years ago, Marge and Gray invited Tree Watch to plant a blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica ‘Wildfire’), ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), and a Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) in their back yard, as well as an American linden (Tilia americana) in the sidewalk planting strip out front.

We said, “No way.”

Just kidding. We said, “Fantastic!” In fact, here’s our friend Chris Hrubesh finishing up his planting of their oak tree.

The Crouses’ trees are thriving. That oak in the photo is probably 15-18 feet tall now.

But Marge and Gray did report to me that their ginkgo, for reasons only it knows, had decided to start growing sideways at a point about four or five feet off the ground.

A word or two about the remarkable ginkgo or maidenhair tree. Here’s the introductory paragraph from a 2020 New York Times article:

The ginkgo is a living fossil. It is the oldest surviving tree species, having remained on the planet, relatively unchanged for some 200 million years. A single ginkgo may live for hundreds of years, maybe more than a thousand. They’ve survived some of our world’s greatest catastrophes, from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

They’re amazing trees! Check out the beautiful specimen in front of The Natalie on Waverly Way. This ginkgo at the High Museum is another fine example.

Notwithstanding how impressive a mature ginkgo tree can be, young ones are slow-growing and often gawky. For years, they just sit there looking goofy. Eventually, when they’re finally ready, they start putting on one to two feet of new growth each year. And so I suspect that when that time comes, the Crouses’ tree will straighten itself out.

But I can’t be sure. And so I decided to splint the tree for a few months.

In tree parlance, splinting is not staking. We stake a tree primarily to stabilize it while the root system develops.

Source: Urban Tree Foundation and International Society of Arboriculture

We splint to straighten out the trunk or a branch. As you can read in the upper right-hand corner of this photo, a bamboo pole is tied to the trunk without being driven into the soil.

I tied two bamboo poles together, and then with Marge’s help, attached the bundled poles to the ginkgo in three places. I used a pieces of a soft, flat, polypropylene strap and some felt that Marge happened to have.

With the weight of the splint attached, however, the tree needed to be staked, which you can see here.

It’s never ideal to make a tree rigid. Movement is an important factor in ensuring a tree’s proper development as it grows. So I’ll be removing the splint and the stakes as soon as the tree adds enough annual growth rings to hold the tree in the corrected position.

Wish us luck.