Binding technique for garden trees

Today I want to introduce a short explanation how to do a stabilization construction for new planted trees in Japanese gardens.
This technique is normally used on multi-stemmed trees we mostly plant in gardens.
For single-stemmed ones we use a similar technique but for trees along streets there is a different technique.

It is necessary to stabilize newly panted trees in Japan because of several causes.
The soil is very loamy. When it rains a lot, there is not much stability in the ground itself. A root ball would fit into the hole like a bone in a joint. The tree can easily fall over. There is also no ground preparation done before planting. When the conditions are very bad, it can take several years for one tree to really fasten into the ground.
Another problem are very strong winds, which appear in several seasons. We face the strong winds in winter and spring, but the worst is the typhoon season in late summer. If there weren’t any support to the trees, they would be just blown away.

A tree is normally fastened with three long bamboo culms of Madake bamboo (Phyllostachys bambusoides), which means, the diameter of each stick is about 5cm. The length depends on the length of the tree. The bamboo should not standing out when the work is finished, but it has to be long enough for be dug deep into the ground and for the step I will explain next.

The first step when doing the supporter is to cut off about 30cm of the thick ends of each culm. Cut above a nodium so you will get a flat edge at one end of the 30cm long pieces.

Now arrange the three long parts to a triangle. There must be two crossing spots at every culm. One to bind it to the tree and one to bind it to another culm.
If you found a good position for every culm, get the 30cm long pieces in an obtuse angle to a culm in the ground.
Fix them with a nail together and bind them with wire.
With wire, we want to hide the nail and create more stability. The wire is applied around the two bamboo pieces and laid around the middle.

When binding the tree to the bamboo culm, we are using the same technique with Shuronawa.
The ending knot is called “Otoko-musubi”.
When connecting the long bamboo culms to each other, we again use nails and wire.

This double binding technique, culm to culm and culm to tree, provides enough stability to let the tree survive the Japanese weather and soil conditions.


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