Heavy Metal

In my last post I mentioned that I had used rebar on a shimpaku and I had a reader ask about this technique. Great question! Rebar is sometimes used in situations when branches need to be guy wired down or up and there is no existing anchor point or strong anchor point on the tree such as jin, or a piece of deadwood. Rebar can also be used in situations where large or thick branches need to be moved and the existing jin on the tree is not strong enough to support the tension. Sometimes we use rebar when there is a need for a guy wire and there is no suitable anchor point in the area where we want the guy wire to be anchored to. We can attach a piece of rebar and will instantly have that anchor point in a precise location.

Shimpaku with rebar

Hidden in this Red Pine is rebar.

 The first step is to figure out the general direction you want to pull the desired branch or branches. Next you will want to find at least two points on the tree where you can lay the rebar and secure it with copper wire. Normally you would want this to be in the crotch of a jin. This is so you have a place to secure the rebar with copper wire and it will not harm the tree. Sometimes it is unavoidable to have the rebar touching the bark of the tree, and in these situations you will want to protect the bark using rubber padding.

The anchor points I used to secure the rebar

In the picture above you can see that I attached the rebar to two pieces of deadwood. The rebar is sitting on the top of the lower jin and is under the top jin. I first secured the rebar to the lower jin and then secured it to the top jin.

The lower anchor point

A side view of the lower anchor point

As you can see in the picture above I placed a piece of rubber padding between the rebar and the bark of the tree to protect it from rubbing and scaring the live vein. I tied the copper wire in the back of the tree so when view from the front its cleaner looking to the viewer. It’s the small details that makes the differences and help elevate you technique to the next level. I would like to take a minute to thank Mark who asked about this technique. When I went back to this tree, which is the last one I wired, to take these pictures I noticed that I had forgotten to twist the guy wires. You can see this in the picture above. This is another small detail that makes your work look cleaner and unobtrusive to the viewer. Thanks Mark!

The guy wires attached to the rebar

On this shimpaku I used the rebar to pull down two branches. I tied a piece of copper wire just above the two guy wires to prevent them from slipping up the rebar.

A large Red Pine with rebar

On this large red pine rebar was used to pull down a large branch. A total of three points were used to secure the rebar to the tree.

This is the top anchor point for the rebar

As you can see the rebar was laying on the bark of the pine, so a piece of rubber padding was used for protection.

The middle anchor point for the rebar

It may be a little hard to see, but the rebar is actually attached to a dead branch that has yet to be carved. You can see the flat cut that was made.

The lower anchor point for the rebar

Because of the way the rebar was placed, it is not sitting flush to the jin at this lowest anchor point. It is still secured with copper wire to provide as much support as possible.

Hopefully this post will help you better understand how to use the rebar technique. I have also seen my sempi use rebar to pull a branch up. It was on a cascading juniper. The rebar laid on the top of the pot and was secured with wires running up through the soil.

You do not used rebar every time you need to guy wire branches, just went a suitable anchor point is not found on the tree. Make sure you are careful not to damage the bark and always protect places where the rebar touch bark and live veins.

On a final note, the owner of the last shimpaku I wired came by the nursery today to pick up the tree. He was pleased with the tree and thanked me for my hard work. That made my day and is one of the many reasons bonsai is so rewarding for me!

Shimpaku on display for client

Thank you for visiting!

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6 Responses to Heavy Metal

  1. Mark Leija says:

    You’ve opened my eyes Tyler. I was going about it all wrong I now see. I feel like Luke Skywalker in search of answers from Yoda in some far off land. All these branches better fear me now! I’m out to stock up on rebar this weekend. Thanks brother!!


  2. japanesepots says:

    Great info Tyler, I stumbled onto your blog when you subscribed to mine! Between you and Peter it’s like being in Japan(without all the sweeping)

    • tylersherrod says:

      Thank you for visiting my blog! If it’s any help, i’m sure I can arrange for me and Peter to put a special post all about sweeping! 😉 I have enjoyed looking at you blog as well, great info on pots!

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