How to Stake a Tree Properly
If you are putting a new tree into your yard, or you have a tree that recently underwent some trauma, chances are that you may need to stake it. If your tree is perfectly healthy and has a sturdy, solid trunk and root system, you won’t have to. Still, many people will stake their trees “just in case” of something else going wrong. This generally won’t harm your trees in any way – unless you don’t stake your tree properly.
There are many ways that you can actually injure and put unnecessary stress on your tree. In fact, if you don’t do it properly, staking your tree can do far more damage than it is worth. That’s why you absolutely need to know what you are doing, do it properly, and be as gentle as possible with the tree.
Follow this procedure for the best results:
5. Figure Out If You Need to Stake the Tree
- Not all trees should be staked
- Talk to the growers for the best options
- Follow the directions of professionals
There are some trees that you need to stake and those that you don’t. The ones that should be staked include those that have bare roots or small root balls, those planted in areas with foot traffic, new trees that can’t stand on their own, certain tree species (hybrids, Eucalyptus, oleander, etc), top heavy trees, and younger trees in an area where it is wet and/or windy.
If you have any questions about whether your trees need to be staked based on the type of tree that they are, or just in general, always remember to talk to the person who sold you the tree. Fine Gardening also has a great list of which trees should be staked and which ones shouldn’t be.
4. Nursery Delivery
- Talk to nursery about their staking process
- Look where they put the stakes
- Ask any questions when you have the chance to
When your tree is delivered, it will likely still have the nursery stakes on it yet. Nurseries will stake all trees, in general, because they are planted to be removed instead of planted to stay. You will likely find two to three stakes already in place on the tree, whether they are wooden or metal may depend on the tree.
According to Learn 2 Grow, you should put your hand on the trunk and see if the stakes hold the tree steady. If they do, you will put them in the same place. However, it is likely that you will have to move them because of the growth and cutting of the tree.
3. Use the Trunk to Measure
- Measure each tree individually
- Take your time
- Measure at least twice
For your best results, put two of the stakes opposite of each other to start. They should be about 1.5′ away from the trunk. This will allow you to move a little more freely around to set up the rest of the tree, if necessary. Most people will have success with only using two stakes, especially with younger trees.
If you have a heavier or older tree, or you live in an area where you get frequent severe weather, use the third stake. Be careful about overcrowding, according to the University of Minnesota, as it can cause problems.
2. Tie the Tree
- Use a soft material
- Be careful not to cut into the trunk
- Allow slack
The final step to actually staking your tree brings actually tying the tree to the stakes. Use the softest materials that you can find. There are some materials that are sold in stores, or you can use canvas strapping. Sometimes people will use their own materials, but you need to be careful about damaging the tree. Materials like ropes or wire can actually cut into the trunk and cause it to die.
Allow enough slack within the ties so that the tree can sway naturally. This helps it to establish itself, according to Bob Vila.
1. How Long to Keep Your Tree Staked
- You’ll have to test the tree
- Remove within a year
- Watch tree after removal
In general, you want to leave the tree staked for at least the next growing season. This means that if you stake the tree in the spring (when most people plant trees), you will want to remove it in the fall. If you stake in the fall, another popular growing time, you’ll want to remove it in the spring. You don’t want to keep the stake on too long or the tree will start to depend on the stakes too much and it won’t stand on its own. Iowa State University says there really isn’t a rhyme or reason for it, you just have to get a feel for it by removing some of the pressure to see if the tree stands.
Make sure to check your tree routinely as it grows. Faster growing trees may start to grow around the fastening straps, which could cut off some of the flow of water and nutrients. You may have to remove the straps sooner rather than later.
If you are getting a new tree in your yard, AK Timber Services can help you with all phases of the process. Our team is knowledgeable about the different plants that succeed in Vancouver. We also know how to take care of newer trees so that they have a successful transfer period and adapt well to your yard.
The sooner you seek the help of a professional, the better your trees will adjust. Our team can help you with planting and staking if the above method seems to be just a bit too much for you to do. Don’t be ashamed – planting and staking a tree is something that requires a bit of practice to really get it right.
Give us a call today at (360) 635-1076 to get started. There is no time too soon – we can schedule an appointment to look at your yard, choose the right tree, and even get it planted.
Header photo courtesy of CIAT on Flickr!