Some newly planted trees will benefit from staking to help the tree grow straight and establish quickly, while for other newly planted trees, staking may be unnecessary. While several factors come into play when deciding whether or not to stake a newly planted tree, and there are several methods that can be used to stake a tree, one thing remains constant: If you do decide to stake a tree, do not leave the staking materials in place for more than 1 to 1 ½ growing seasons without untying the tree and observing to determine if the tree can remain free of staking. This is to prevent ropes, straps, wire, tying tape or garden hose from becoming stuck in the bark or a branch crotch as the tree grows. If staking materials are forgotten and the tree grows around them, moderate to severe damage can occur.
If you untie a tree that has been staked for a year or so, and it appears to still need support, re-stake it, and make sure you re-tie around a different location on the trunk and/or branch crotches. Allow a year to pass, and untie again to check.
Most trees will only need to be staked for 1 to 1 ½ growing seasons, and many trees won’t require any staking at all If you get the new tree planted and it stands well all by itself, don’t stake it unless you find that your site is just too exposed to harsh winds that would cause the tree to tip or lean to one side.
Shorter trees with thicker trunks and compact shape are less likely to need staking. Taller, lean, lanky trees are more likely to benefit from staking to help them establish standing straight and growing straight. Each tree is different, and the exposure of each planting site to heavy winds varies, so there is no hard and fast rule. Knowing your site exposure and observation of your tree will help you decide whether or not to stake the tree. If you decide to stake your tree, be sure to untie and observe after a year. Re-tie only if necessary, and re-tie in a different location on the trunk/branch crotches.
My preferred method of tree staking is to use short woven nylon web straps of 12” to 18” in length that have a grommet at each end. We install 2, 3 or 4 heavy duty steel t-posts around the tree, loop the grommet web strap around the trunk and run a loop of wire through the grommets and around the post. The nylon web strap is very gentle on the bark of the tree, and the loop of wire can be twisted until the slack is removed, and the strap becomes snug.
We also use 1/8” nylon rope, pieces of old garden hose and 12” timber spikes to stake trees with the timber spike pounded into the ground at a 45 degree angle, and the rope at a 45 degree angle from the branch crotch down to the head of the timber spike.
Yet another staking method is to use a tall bamboo, steel, fiberglass
or wooden stake of 5’ to 12’ in length and pound t into the ground 24” to 30” immediately alongside the tree trunk and then tie the trunk to the stake with a gentle plastic typing tape. We have this tying tape and stakes available at our retail counter.
Any of these 3 basic methods of staking a tree can be successful. Any of these three methods can fail or lead to damage to the tree. Be sure to monitor how the tree is doing. Untie after a year to check and re-tie only if necessary. Do not stake a tree and forget it, or you will probably regret the damage that occurs.