How to stake trees?

2 Quick Steps to Stake Large Trees

A newly planted tree is prone to bending or falling over due to the wind, earth movement or man activities. To prevent damage on newly installed large trees, using hardwood stakes are needed for the trunk and roots to grow strong.

Staking will vary on the size and type of tree. If it’s a small tree, you can use bamboo stakes and tree guards to get it done. However, large trees require a more sturdy yet economical option to keep it standing throughout its first year.

Here’s a quick guide on how to stake large trees for durable support.

First, you will need these landscape supplies to get started:

  • 2x hardwood stakes we recommend using a sturdy 38 x 38mm or 50 x 50mm stake for large trees
  • Sledgehammer/Post Rammer
  • Tackler Gun
  • Jute Webbing Tree Tie

1) Install the hardwood stakes into the ground

The height of the stake will depend on your tree. The length should cover the trunk but not interfering with the branches.

Insert the stakes opposite each other, having the newly planted tree in the middle. Use a post rammer or hammer to drive it deep enough into the ground.

2)Secure the tree with Jute Webbing

Wrap the jute webbing around the stakes supporting the tree. Use a Tacker Gun to secure the tie on the stakes and cut off the excess.

When to remove the stakes?

Garden stakes are intended to temporarily support young trees’ growth. In time, trees will develop strong trunk and roots, therefore they no longer need the stake. Stakes are usually removed after eight (8) months or whenever the tie starts to interfere with the tree.

Staking your newly installed tree allows its root systems to grow strong. If you need supplies for your tree installation, All Stake Supply is the answer. As one of the largest distributors of landscape supplies in Sydney, our range of landscaping solutions ranges from erosion control products, greenkeeping, revegetation, arboriculture and more.

If you need help finding the landscape supplies you need, call our friendly staff on 1300 130 123.

  • How do I and why do i stake my new trees?

    There are many ways of staking trees, and many old wives tales on how and why it should be done. This is the way we stake trees and the way we recommend you do it too.

    Why Stake A Tree?

    Trees should only be staked if they really require it, i.e. they are planted in an exposed site or are a large grade tree which is likely to require some short term stabilization. In most cases a tree will establish its own root system for anchorage faster if it is not staked. When staking a tree it is best that the stakes are low on the trunk so they hold the rootball better. If you use a high stake it will not hold the root ball steady in the ground.

    What Do I Need To Stake A Tree ?

    • Tree stakes. We recommend a ground treated 1.2m stake 50mm X 50mm square, 2 stakes for most domestic gardens or 3 stakes for exposed sites.
    • A sledge hammer
    • A soft material for tying like nylon tree webbing, or old bicycle tubes.
    • A staple gun
    • A sharp knife or pair of scissors.

    How Do I Stake A Tree?

    There are many ways to stake a tree, this is the best way. 1.

    • Bang your stakes into the ground Use a 1.2 m stake and bang into a depth of around 500-600mm.
    • Ensure the stakes are outside of the root ball
    • Ensure your stakes are facing into the prevailing wind.
    • Ensure your stakes are straight or pointing slightly outward (this is more for looks than effectiveness). If the stakes are pointing slightly outward they will pull in when you tie the tree giving you a nice vertical finish.

    2. Once your stakes are in the ground you can use your tree tie to tie the tree to the stakes

    • Tack one end of the tree tie to the first stake with the stapler
    • Run your tie out to the tree and back again to measure the length required, Cut the tree tie.
    • Now run your length of tie back to the trunk and run it around the back side of the trunk
    • On your way back to the stake twist the tree tie over around the first length.
    • Once back at the stake fold the end of the tie over and staple to the stake
    • Repeat for the other stakes.

    Ideal Staking Using Two Stakes Important things to remember when staking Only leave stakes on the tree for 9 – 12 months, Never use wire or anything else which can cut into the bark, Never stake using only one stake.

    How to Stake a Tree Properly (And How Long to Keep It Staked)

    The new tree you planted is counting on you for enough water, sunlight and nutrients – and it needs a few other elements to succeed, too.

    A bit of pruning early on can help your tree establish a good shape. And your new tree may need a bit of literal support, like a stake.

    Though, not all young trees need to be staked. Read on to see if you should stake a new tree. If so, learn some staking trees methods and how long to keep a tree staked.

    What You Need to Know About Staking New Trees

    While it seems like young trees need extra support, most trees don’t need to be staked. Staking trees that don’t need it can cause the tree to grow fewer roots and develop a weak tree base.

    Only stake your tree if it needs extra support, protection or help staying anchored.

    Should you stake your new tree?

    If you properly planted a healthy tree with a sturdy trunk and solid root system, chances are you won’t have to stake it. You also don’t have to stake evergreens, conifers or trees that have branches growing lower to the ground. There are times when you should stake trees, though.

    Do stake:

    • Bare-root trees or trees with a small root ball.
    • Trees planted in areas with lots of foot traffic, like a sidewalk or street.
    • New trees that can’t stand on their own or those that begin to lean.
    • Eucalyptus trees, mesquite hybrid trees, oleander trees and acacia trees.
    • Tall, top-heavy trees with no lower branches.
    • Young trees if you live in a very windy area or if the soil is too wet or loose.

    If your new tree needs staking, here’s how to stake it for support.

    1. Remove the nursery stakes, and find two or three stakes (wooden or metal). Place your hand on the trunk and see where it needs to be steadied. That’s how tall your stakes should be.

    2. Place the two stakes opposite each other and about 1.5’ away from the trunk. Use the third stake only if needed and put on an open side of the tree.

    3. Use a soft material, like canvas strapping or tree staking straps, to attach the stakes. Allow enough slack, so the tree can naturally sway. Don’t use rope or wire, which damages the trunk.

    How long should you keep a tree staked?

    Generally, remove the stake the next growing season. If you add a stake in spring, remove in fall. If you stake in fall, remove in spring. Otherwise, the tree will depend on the stake and won’t stand on its own.

    Also, make sure you always remove the wire around the branches! The tree can eventually grow around the wires, which could potentially cut off the flow of water and nutrients.

    How To Make A Tree Straight And Stop Trees From Leaning

    Most gardeners want the trees in their yard to grow straight and tall, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas. Storms, wind, snow and rain can all cause a great deal of damage to the trees in your yard. Young trees are particularly susceptible. You wake up one morning after a storm and there it is — a leaning tree. Can you straighten a tree that has fallen in a storm? Can you stop trees from leaning in the first place? In most cases, the answer is yes, you can make a tree straight if it’s young enough and you know what you’re doing.

    To Stake or Not to Stake a Leaning Tree

    Many arborists now believe that a tree grows best without staking, but there are circumstances where staking or guying is necessary to stop trees from leaning.

    Newly purchased saplings that have a very small root ball are not readily able to support the growth of the tree, thin stemmed trees that bend under their own weight, and saplings planted on an extremely windy site are all good candidates for staking to make a tree straight.

    How to Make a Tree Straight

    The purpose of staking is to temporarily support a tree until its root system is well established enough to support it alone. If you decide to stake a tree, leave the equipment in place for only one growing season. Stakes should be made of sturdy wood or metal and should be about 5 feet long. Most young trees will need only one stake and guy rope. Larger trees or those in windy conditions will need more.

    To make a tree straight, drive the stake into the ground at the edge of the planting hole so that the stake is upwind of the tree. Attach a rope or wire as a guy to the stake, but never attach it around the trunk of a tree. The bark of a young tree is fragile and these will chafe or slice the bark. Attach the trunk of the tree to the guy wire with something flexible, like cloth or rubber from a bicycle tire. Gradually tighten the wire to hold or pull the leaning tree upright.

    How to Straighten a Tree After Uprooting

    There are a few rules that must be followed in order to straighten a tree that has been uprooted. One-third to one-half of the root system must still be firmly planted in the ground. The exposed roots must be undamaged and relatively undisturbed.

    Remove as much soil as possible from under the exposed roots and gently straighten the tree. The roots must be replanted below grade level. Pack the soil firmly around the roots and attach two or three guy wires to the tree, anchoring them about 12 feet from the trunk.

    If your mature tree is lying flat on the ground with the roots still firmly planted, the situation is hopeless. You cannot fix this type of leaning tree and the tree should be removed.

    It isn’t easy to straighten a tree or stop trees from leaning, but with a little knowledge and a lot of hard work, it can be done.

    Drive around any Dayton neighborhood and you’ll likely see newly planted trees tightly tied to landscape stakes, presumably to help the tree get established without falling over. After all, planting a tree is an investment in the value of your property and you want to ensure that it lives a long and healthy life.

    But, contrary to popular belief, staking a newly planted tree is often not necessary. In fact, staking young trees can do more harm than good.

    The Problems With Tree Staking

    Using stakes to support a new tree can cause several problems, particularly if the support is left in place for more than the first growing season. Staking trees improperly damages the new tree and can lead to stunted growth or death.

    We often see the following issues with improperly staked trees:

    • The tree trunk snaps where it’s tied to the stake, usually due to strong winds
    • Roots grow more slowly, lengthening the time it takes the new tree to establish
    • The trunk doesn’t develop proper “taper” (where the thickest part of the trunk is at the base and it tapers to the thinnest part at the top of the tree), resulting in a smaller and weaker tree
    • The material used to tie the tree to the stakes tightens as the tree grows, cutting through the bark and girdling it (essentially, strangling the tree).

    Reasons To Stake a Tree

    Generally speaking, a properly planted tree will not need staking.

    However, there are some situations in which a young tree will benefit from proper staking, such as:

    • Trees with heavy leaf cover and small root balls (the root ball will likely move as the tree canopy moves, making it more difficult to get established roots)
    • Top-heavy bare root trees
    • Young trees planted in windy locations
    • Sandy or wet soil that doesn’t hold the root ball in place
    • Trees with weak or flexible trunks that don’t stay upright without support
    • Trees planted in areas where people are likely to come into contact with them, possibly knocking them over

    How to Properly Stake a Tree

    Proper staking can protect a newly planted tree when needed. To do it correctly, you’ll need a few items that you probably don’t have lying around the house:

    • 2×2 inch wooden stakes about 5 feet tall (for larger/heavies trees and those planted in windy areas, you may need metal stakes instead)
    • something to pound them into the ground with (like a small sledgehammer), and
    • a wide, smooth strap to tie around the trunk.

    Consider how many stakes you’ll need. For a smaller tree in a location that’s not windy, one stake may be enough. Otherwise, use three stakes in a triangle shape with the “point” of the triangle pointing in the direction of the prevailing wind. Drive the stakes about 18 inches into the ground and roughly one and a half feet away from the trunk (outside the root ball but within the planting hole).

    To determine where to tie the stakes to the tree, hold it in one hand and rock it gently back and forth. Move your hand up and down until you find the height at which the tree stays upright when moved. This will generally be ½ to 2/3 of the way up the trunk. If you tie the tree at less than 1/2 of its height you’ll end up with a giant lever, with the canopy moving around in the wind and eventually lifting the roots straight up into the air (usually with an explosion of dirt and mulch). If you tie it directly under the lowest branches, the tree is likely to snap off in strong wind.

    Tie the tree using a wide, flexible material (like a cloth strap, rubber tubing, or even pantyhose) that is loosely tied. Don’t use wire, nylon cord, or anything else that can bite into the bark. You may have seen people using rope or wire inserted into pieces of garden hose to tie a tree. Don’t do it. The hose will rub the bark away and sooner or later the wire will cut through the hose and into the tree.

    Don’t tie the wrap too tightly – the tree should still be able to move slightly; too much movement will rub the bark away, too little will slow tree growth and development. The slight movement will help to generate stronger roots and, in the case of high winds, the tree is less likely to snap off.

    While the tree is staked, monitor it regularly for signs of abrasion, girdling, rocking or any other damage.

    Remove the stakes at the end of the first growing season to give the tree a chance to stand on its own. If you placed the stakes in spring, remove them in fall; if you staked the tree in fall, remove the stakes the following spring.

    Done correctly, staking a tree can minimize damage and help it get established. But before getting out the stakes, determine whether or not the tree really needs the supplemental support – most do not.

    Helpful Resources

    If you’re planning to plant a tree, check out the following tips:

    • How to Choose the Right Tree – Planting the right tree in the right location will minimize the need for staking
    • How to Properly Plant a Tree – A well-planted tree shouldn’t need to be staked
    • How Much, How Often, and How Best to Water Your Trees – water is vital the first two years

    And don’t forget that we offer professional tree planting services. We’ll even help you choose the best tree for your property and will purchase a healthy, well-developed tree from a reputable grower!

    Staking and Guying Trees: Best Materials and Technique

    Authors: Gary R. Johnson, Associate Professor, Urban and Community Forestry and Marc A. Shippee, Undergraduate Research Assistant. Forest Resources Extension Department

    When is Staking Necessary?

    More often than not, staking is unnecessary. Occasionally, newly planted trees may require staking when:

    1. They have abnormally small root systems that can’t physically support the larger, above-ground growth (stem and leaves).
    2. The stem bends excessively when not supported.
    3. The planting site is very windy and trees will be uprooted if they are not supported.
    4. There’s a good chance that vandals will uproot or damage unprotected trees.

    Proper Staking Techniques

    Fig 1: Any material connected to the stem should have a broad smooth surface. Fig 2: Double staking method. Always attach the stem loosely to the stakes to allow for flexibility.

    If done properly, staking provides stability until the tree can support itself. However, if staking is done improperly or for too long, it can do far more harm than good (Fig. 3).

    Figure 3: Stem breakage can result from stems attached too tightly or staked too long.

    Staking and Guying Materials:

    Staking materials vary depending on the situation and size of the tree. For small to average-sized trees (up to 10-12 feet in height), wooden stakes are sufficient. They should be at least 2 inches by 2 inches by 5 feet long. For larger or heavier trees, or trees in particularly windy situations, metal fence stakes may be necessary. The stakes are reusable, particularly the metal stakes.

    Fig. 4: Correct placement of guying attachment to stem canopy.

    Guying anchors are usually shorter and stronger, since they are driven deep into the ground and exposed only a few inches above the soil surface. Stout wooden stakes (at least 3 inches by 3 inches by 24 inches), duck-billed soil anchors, or reinforcing rods (minimum of 5/8 inches in diameter) are most often used (Fig. 4 and 9).

    Fig. 5: Attachments should be made 1/3 or 2/3 up the stem. Never attach directly below the first set of branches.

    Attaching the wires/ropes to the stem. Whether attaching the tree to stakes or guying anchors, the rope, wires or metal cable should never come into contact with tree stems or branches. Any material contacting the stem should have a broad and smooth surface (Fig. 1). Wide canvas strapping, strips of old carpeting, burlap, or bicycle inner tubes are suitable materials to wrap around the tree stem and attach to the stake ropes, wires or cables. Do not insert ropes or wires through sections of garden hose and wrap around the tree stem- it doesn’t work for very long, abrasion and compression of the stem will soon occur.

    Placement of Stakes/Anchors and Stem Attachments:

    Placement of stakes or anchors: As a rule of thumb, use as few as possible. For many, smaller trees, one stake is sufficient to keep the tree vertical and stable (Fig. 6). Place the stake upwind from the direction of prevailing spring/summer winds. Drive the stake into the outer edge of the planting hole, safely away from the root system but still within the mulched planting area.

    If one stake is not sufficient, place two stakes that run parallel to the prevailing winds (Fig. 7). For guying straightened, wind thrown trees, use three stakes or anchors, equally spaced around the tree with one placed upwind from the prevailing winds (Fig. 8). Never place guying anchors outside of the mulched planting bed because this can become a safety hazard to people walking by or playing near the trees.

    Fig. 6: One stake, 2/3 up the stem.

    Placement of stem attachment: For staking trees, the wide, flexible stem attachment materials should be placed either 1/3 or 2/3 the distance from the ground up to the first set of branches (Fig. 6, 7). Never place the attachments directly beneath the first set of branches. Stems will snap in heavy wind loads if the canopy (branches and leaves) move but the stem is held rigid directly below the canopy (Fig. 4). For guying trees, the attachments should be made on the canopy stem, that is, around the stem above the first set of branches (Fig. 9). This will allow maximum stability of the entire tree during windy periods.

    Fig.7: Two-stake method, 1/3 up stem.

    Always attach the stem to the stakes or anchors loosely, with some flexibility at the point of attachment to the stem as well as the attachment of the ropes/wires to the stakes or anchors. Trees need to move a little during windy periods in order to develop flexible strength and stem diameter. Rigidly supporting trees to stakes or cables will result in tall but weak stems.

    Removing the Stakes and Anchors: Install the staking or guying attachments at planting time or straightening time and leave them in place for one growing season. Remove the attachments in the autumn for spring planted trees and in the autumn for trees planted the previous autumn. After removing the attachments, check the tree for stability

    If the tree’s root system still moves in the soil when the stem is moved or if the stem still bends excessively, reattach the connections to the stakes – loosely to accommodate new growth – and leave the stakes/anchors on for one more season.

    Fig. 8: Three stake method. Fig. 9: Guyed tree with attachments on canopy stem and anchors placed within the mulched area.

    Straightening Wind Thrown Trees

    Occasionally, wind thrown trees can be straightened and saved. The success of this technique depends on several key factors, however:

    1. It must be a true, wind throw. That is, the roots must be pushing up through the heaved soil as in Fig. 10. If the tree is leaning or horizontal and there is no evidence that the roots are pushing up and heaving the soil, then the tree stem probably broke off below ground and is essentially lost.
    2. It is most successfully done when the trees are relatively small: up to 15-20 feet in height and a stem diameter of six inches or less. Larger trees may be straightened, but it takes a skilled tree care company with special equipment to perform the operation.
    3. The roots must still be alive. If they have dried out or if it’s several days after the windstorm, the chances of success are greatly reduced.
    4. The soil must be moist. Straightening trees in dry soil conditions, especially if the soil is clay in nature, is generally not a very successful operation.
    5. The tree should be in good health. If the tree was diseased, infested with insect pests or otherwise stressed, the chances of survival are not very good.
    6. Shallow-rooted species (e.g., maples) may be straightened with more success than deep-rooted species (e.g., walnut).

    Straightening the Tree

    Fig. 10: Wind thrown tree.

    1. Straighten the tree (Fig. 10) soon after the windstorm has subsided, at least within a couple of days. If you can’t straighten it immediately, keep the root system moist with irrigation and a mulch such as loose straw or burlap.

    Fig. 11: Excavate under up-rooted root system. Straighten with winch.

    2. Excavate under the heaved-up root system to the depth of the lifted mass of roots and soil (Fig. 11). This allows the root and soil mass to settle back to a normal depth once the tree has been straightened. Never pull or winch a tree into an upright position without excavating under the heaved-up roots. Without the excavated area for the root and soil mass to settle in, it will be pulled up and out of the ground, which will result in more broken roots on the opposite side.

    Fig. 12: Backfill, water, mulch, install guy wires and anchors.

    3. Install a triangular guying system, water thoroughly, back fill with loose soil to fill any open areas around the roots, water again and mulch the entire rooting area (Fig. 12). Make sure that you include the guying anchors within the mulched area.

    The information given in this publication is for educational purposes only. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in Forest Resources, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    Gary is a Professor Professor of Urban and Community Forestry within the Department of Forest Resources/Extension at the University of Minnesota. His work addresses a variety of urban natural resource issues.

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