Matt’s Tree Tie-Down

Posted by on Mar 22, 2016 | 2 Comments
Matt’s Tree Tie-Down

While working on a few trees recently I was lamenting the habit of my bunjin pines to fall over, sometimes even in a slight wind. We’ve had some pretty good winter storms here in the Bay Area this year, and trees falling on one another has been the cause of more than one broken branch recently. Anchoring the trees is the obvious solution, one that I try to do, but sometimes neglect. I bought some nice black twine last year for this exact purpose.

This twin trunk bunjin fell over in a recent storm, it was not damaged but the soil was displaced.   Sitting on top of a bench with a 2x8 top Matt starts by making a loop from the front of the tree around either side of the container, threading the rope around the bottom.

This twin trunk bunjin fell over in a recent storm, it was not damaged but the soil was displaced. Sitting on top of a bench with a 2×8 top Matt starts by making a loop from the front of the tree around either side of the container, threading the rope around the bottom of the board.

He then moves the rope over the pot on either side of the trunk with a pull point at the front and center.   Threading one side of the loop through the pull point.

He then moves the rope over the pot on either side of the trunk with a pull point at the front and center. Threading one side of the loop through the pull point.

Pulling the rope tight from both ends with the knot centered on the corner of the board keeps the tension.

Create a knot like the first step in tying a shoe positioning it at the bottom corner of the board. Pulling the rope tight from both ends create tension at the knot; hold it in place with your thumb.

Pulling all the slack out allows the rope to stay firmly in place while tying the bow.

Pulling all the slack out allows the rope to stay firmly in place while tying the bow.

Make a second loop around the rope to complete a standard knot with a half-bow so that it can be pulled apart easily.

Make a second loop around the rope to complete a standard knot with a half-bow so that it can be pulled apart easily.

Finally, tuck the loose ends under the rope up under the bench to make it look tidy.

Finally, tuck the loose ends under the rope up under the bench to make it look tidy.

Matt learned this technique while in Japan. On my recent visit I noted many trees in the garden of Kunio Kobayashi tied in the same fashion, using plastic rope. Matt mentioned that different techniques can be used for different shape pots, this technique is commonly used for round pots in his experience.

Plastic rope on a large pine at Kobayashi's garden.

Plastic rope on a large pine at Kobayashi’s garden. Note the same configuration in how the rope is looped and knotted.

The same tie down process with the knot on the opposite side.

The same tie down process with the knot on the opposite side.

Not all trees that I saw tied down used the double loop. Tyler Sherrod is currently the senior apprentice at Shinji Suzuki’s Obuse nursery. On my recent visit, many of the trees were tied down using a single loop of black rope.

Black rope tied on one side in the greenhouse of Shinji Suzuki.

Black rope tied on one side in the greenhouse of Shinji Suzuki.

Whatever technique you use, take the time to tie down trees to prevent accidents. You never know when the wind or a raccoon might knock over a tree – which can cause you years of setback if you’re unlucky.

2 Comments

  1. Ray Norris
    March 23, 2016

    great idea, this is the first really windy winter and spring we’ve had here in Vancouver,bc.

    I know a few bonsai folks that lost good pots and some trees with broken branches.

  2. Bruce Winter
    March 26, 2016

    My lazy non-traditional way. A bungee cord hooked front and back of the pot and under the bench. It’s held in high winds.