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Treehouse Question

Compartmentalization of treehouse bolts

Installing a treehouse bolt creates a wound in the tree. Trees compartmentalize wounded areas, meaning, they block off wounded tissues to prevent decay from spreading throughout the tree. In short, trees seal, they don't heal. You want the tree to seal tightly around a bolt, rather than for adjacent tissues to decay and eventually the bolt (and the treehouse) be supported by mush.

Distance between treehouse bolts

Smaller treehouse fasteners, such as 3/4" lag bolts, can typically be safely placed 6-12" apart vertically, and 2-3" apart horizontally. However, in both casers, the tree compartmentalization risk is less if you use one 1" bolt instead of two 3/4" bolts.

Larger treehouse bolts, which make 3" holes in the tree but support thousands of pounds each, should be placed 2' apart vertically and 4-6" apart horizontally. The same priciple applies to large treehouses & bolts: Use fewer, but larger fasteners to support the treehouse and the tree will have an easier time sealing around the wounds.

Compartmentalization risks for the treehouse

The risk of two bolt holes in a treehouse not compartmentalizing separately increases with proximity. There are no hard & fast rules, but the more distance, the better. If the tree does block off 2 treehouse bolts like they were the same wound, then the wood in between will eventually rot and the attachment points may become unsafe. This could take anywhere from several months to 10 years or more in certain species and climates.