All too often I see trees that are being strangled by the materials that have been used to stake/straighten the tree. All manners of rope, wire, hose, straps, pipes and posts are used to keep newly planted trees standing straight during the time they establish new roots into the surrounding soil. The problem comes when the staking materials are left in place for too long a period of time.
The solution is simple. Remove the staking materials that contact the tree bark after a year. The longest time that ropes, wires and straps should stay on a tree is one and a half growing seasons. Definitely avoid leaving ties around the bark for two full years.
If you untie the tree after one year and it still doesn’t stand straight, re-tie with new, and preferably soft/cushioned ties placed in a different location around the trunk than the original ties. This will allow bark in the location of the original ties to begin growing normally. Be sure to remove the new ties after one year.
To provide a more cushioned, soft, bark friendly contact with the bark, I favor the use of soft nylon web straps, or foam pipe insulation, or small pieces of old garden hose, or one inch wide plastic tree tying tape.
Some people giving gardening advise say trees should not be staked. I disagree. Staking is simply a tool to aid in tree establishment, and should be used only when you just can’t get the tree to stand straight by itself. It can be a safe and effective method/tool when needed, provided it is removed after about a year. Proper staking can protect and straighten “noodly” young trees for a brief period of time until they become stout enough to stand well by themselves.
If you have a tree that has been staked for over a year – liberate it today to prevent bark from growing around the ties. Re-tie if you must, but do so in a different spot. Your tree will grow better and be more beautiful. Liberate those strangling trees.