Wiring question


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Just wanted to get some other opinions about wiring a branch down. If the same branch could be wired into a lower position using conventional wiring (wrapping the branch) or only using a pull down wire, would there be a different success rate. Assume that the wiring and the pull down would place the branch in the same position and left on for the same amount of time. Would one method be more successful than the other in fixing the branch? I would think that the wired branch would hold better than the one with the pull down, but I'm not sure why.
Nope, it shouldn't matter. The branch will eventually stay in its new position because 1) the existing wood fibers have been stretched or broken as the branch is first placed in the desired position, and 2) new wood fibers are laid down as the branch thickens during the growing season, which will "fix" it in place. These two things happen when using both guy wires and conventional wiring techniques at the same rate- the branch doesn't respond differently due to the application of one technique verses the other. I suppose, though, if you were to apply the wire tight enough to scar the branch, that this would "fix" the branch in place faster, but in most cases you'd want to minimize wire marks, so...

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To add to that, bonsai is a 3-dimensional art, and you can't move a branch in multiple planes with a guy wire, so wiring the branch allows you to add movement front-to-back, side-to-side, and top-to-bottom. Also, Dave touched on the fact that wiring a branch often allows you to twist the branch, or rotate it, to push buds toward the outside of curves. This does create scar tissue and not only thickens the branch, but also sets it more firmly in place (Kathy Shaner uses this technique regularly with Shimpaku).
Thanks for the opinions. I agree that it shouldn't matter. A branch just seems so much more fixed in position when wired as opposed to pulled down.
My personal experience is that it is not quite as cut and dry as this all sounds. I agree that everything said is true and both Brian and Dave make some good points but there are many other factors that one often needs to consider.

For example...

I find that rarely does a branch need to be just pulled down...often it also needs other curves and directions added which are best created with traditional wiring. (as Brian pointed out)

I find that I use guy wires on more mature material because it may just need fine tuning where as material in the early training stages are more typically wired.

I also have no proof other than my own experience but I think that often times using a guy wire never really cause the damage to the cell structure of the branch that normal wiring can and should(the healing of this damage is part of the process that helps the branch hold its shape)...thus the ability for the branch to hold the shape is solely dependent on the addition of new wood. Typically this means that the guy wire will most likely need to remain on for a longer period of time in order for the branch to maintain its position.

I tend to over pull branches when using guy wires because there always seems to be some bounce back. This can also be species dependent...most spruce and bald cypress tend to be very springing, pines are often unbelievably flexible and hold shape well, and azaleas brittle...some of this is knowing the species you are working with.

The tension on a guy wire can be increased over time to achieve difficult or severe bends... whereas the proper application of wire can prevent a branch from breaking in areas of stress.

Again no proof other than common sense, but I believe that using guy wires is generally less obtrusive to the health of the tree.

Guys wires are very easy and quick to apply where as a good application of wire takes much more time and effort.

Many times I use both methods simultaneously to accomplish a difficult bend or series of bends.

I use both methods all the time but there is generally always a reason for my choice.

Ultimately yes, both methods are about achieving the same goal...reshaping a branch or trunk. However, as I hope the examples above demonstrate that there is actually much to consider when choosing the appropriate technique for a given situation.

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The main problem with pulling ranches down with guy wires is that it gives the branch an even "bowed" look. There's very little "character" in that.
The main problem with pulling ranches down with guy wires is that it gives the branch an even "bowed" look. There's very little "character" in that.

Like most things that depends on the species as I use guys wires on my weeping willow and a couple of birch where I want that nice "bow" look:).
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