The silhouette of an arborist safely up in a large tree in Edmonton, Alberta.

The Origins of Tree Bracing and Cabling: How John Davey Changed Modern Tree Care

Dig deeper into modern tree care services by learning the origins of two of our most common tree support methods: bracing and cabling.

Tree bracing and tree cabling are the two methods arborists use to provide trees with structural support. In many cases when a tree is at risk of falling or losing large branches, one of both of these practices—which are often used in conjunction—present the optimal solution.


There’s an interesting story behind the genesis of tree bracing and cabling. It’s the story of a man called John Davey. His story not only deepens our understanding of these two important tree care practices, it also reveals the origins of the science of arboriculture. 


Who is John Davey?

John Davey was the first so-called tree surgeon, what today we would call an arborist. The medical analogy is apt: Davey likened tree care to physician care. His reasoning was simple. Just as a person requiring surgery doesn’t turn to the local butcher, diseased or damaged trees—living things like us—demand not the axe but the scalpel: they need to be examined and treated by tree surgeons using scientific methods. 


Davey was born in 1846 in Somerset, England. He developed a sophisticated knowledge of agricultural working with his father, who was superintendent of a large farm. And he developed, specifically, a passion for what today we would call arboriculture, the study of trees and other woody plants. His calling would eventually bring him to the United States—to Warren, Ohio—where he developed and promulgated his novel ideas on tree care and later founded, in 1880, The Davey Tree Expert Company (which, in fact, still exists today and is one of the largest tree and lawn care companies in North America). 


Davey’s importance to the tree care industry can’t be overstated. His book The Tree Doctor, which appeared in 1901, essentially spawned it. Many of his ideas and methods were so ahead of their time that they weren’t picked up until decades later. His innovations on pruning, for instance, have been adopted as the industry standard only in the past 25 years. 


The Invention of Tree Bracing and Tree Cabling

His invention of tree bracing and tree cabling might well be his greatest contribution. Through his research, Davey determined that the branching patterns of certain trees made them structurally weak. He found that the strategic use of rods and cables was effective in improving the structural integrity of such trees, thus protecting them from damage from winds and storms. 


Bracing and cabling practices have only become more sophisticated with the years, and they remain the best methods for stabilizing trees and limbs that have trouble supporting their own weight. The “tree doctors” of today, your local arborists, are able to apply these methods with the newest techniques and technologies. 


Contact a Professional Arborist in Edmonton to Get the Job Done Right 

For superior tree bracing and tree cabling in and around the Greater Edmonton area, you can count on the seasoned arborists at All Season Tree Service. Give us a call to get started today.

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