Bracing is good for trees when you are trying to limit them from splitting. Propping branches is best when branches begin to linger towards the ground. Cabling can be a dynamic solution for keeping the heavy loads of tree branches from falling.
When to use a cable
The case for when to use a brace and when to use cables can come pretty close. Unlike bracing, cabling is best done in the upper canopy of the tree. The upper part of the tree will experience far more movement then the bottom of the tree. Wind, for instance, can shake the entire tree. Cables at the top levels will allow some movement while braces should keep its attached branches more still.
Kinds of cabling
While it may be more common to see steel wire, there are synthetic materials that can be less evasive depending on the type of tree and its growth process. Each material has benefits and is best suited be the situation. If the tree has a split, metal cabling is better while synthetic materials can provide more shock absorption while being less evasive to the tree species.
There is also a variation in the way that the cables can be applied. There are the traditional ‘j’ hooks that can be twisted into the tree and there are wraps that can go around the branch.
When there is cabling and bracing applied to a tree for splitting defense. The cables are that first line of defense keeping the tree from splitting. Cables can also help with keeping the bark inclusion from weakening the overall integrity of the tree. Bark inclusion is when there is a split. Two things will happen, a ridge is when bark forms over the split and bark inclusion is when bark forms between the split.
As always, when you need a an opinion on what to do with your tree in question, contact a Certified Master Arborist.