Monday, September 24, 2012

How to properly stake a tree

How to properly stake a tree

Good work!!
Staking your tree is a good way to balance it after planting. Most of the time, however, it's not necessary for healthy trees. Staking really only needs to be used when the root ball of the tree being planted is too small to be able to support the top growth. If you plant a tree that you carried by yourself, then odds are high that you do not need to stake it.  Too many gardeners stake a tree that does not need staked, and it can actually cause more bad than good.

Staking trees improperly can cause quite a few problems for the tree in the future. When new trees are staked and unable to sway with the wind, it results in a weaker, skinnier trunk. A staked tree will generally grow taller with a more slender trunk and this can make them more susceptible to breakage and damage when they are finally exposed to the full force of the wind. 

The proper use of staking is to keep the tree from moving too much while the roots are being established. The ropes that go around the tree are not supposed to completely immobilize the tree. That just prevents the tree from reacting to the environment. And even at that, this is supposed to be a temporary situation, a year at most. The stakes should come out after the tree is well established. 

If you are not sure whether you need to stake your tree or not, take a look at the size of the root ball compared to the canopy. The root ball should be 1/3 or greater the size of the canopy. If it's smaller than that you may want to stake it. If not, then it will be fine as is.

Thought I'd post some pictures i took of incorrectly staked trees. If your staked tree looks like these, you're doing it wrong.
Bare metal wire directly on the bark? You're doing it wrong.

What happens if you leave it staked too long? This.
This tie is doing absolutely nothing for the trees stability. It's also wearing the bark off the trunk.

I moved these posts away from the tree and the bark was completely scratched off. Not good.


  1. I wonder, does staking a tree leave it more vulnerable to wind damage in the short term once the stake is removed? Thanks for sharing, nice to see some examples of what not to do as well, good guide.

  2. If the tree is staked correctly and is allowed to move a little bit with the stakes, then the trunk will be sturdy enough (in most situations) to withstand the wind. Staking should be used to help the tree develop roots, not to overcome heavy winds. Once the root ball is developed, then the tree naturally should be able to handle the wind. This isn't always the case but it's something to keep in mind.

  3. Awesome tips over there :) Thank you!

  4. Great Post! It's very nice to read this info from someone that actually knows what they are talking about.keep up the good work!!!