Q. What’s the best way to stake a tree?
Dave R., Atascadero
A. Staking trees is a controversial topic.
Current research encourages home gardeners to avoid staking new trees whenever possible. It’s best to allow a tree’s lower trunk to move a bit, deepening its roots; this results in stronger trees.
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Furthermore, staked trees are frequently damaged by rubbing and girdling. Their vertical growth and root development are slowed, and trunks may become stressed where the stake is attached and be more susceptible to breaking.
Trees that can stand by themselves or don’t need protection from excessive wind don’t need to be staked. Most conifers, trees with upright growth habits and bare-root trees don’t need additional staking.
Supportive staking may be required if a tree isn’t strong enough to stand upright or return to an upright position after being deflected.
If you do stake a tree, do so when planting it and follow these steps:
▪ Place two stakes in the ground outside of the root ball on opposite sides of the tree, allowing the prevailing wind to blow through the stakes. Remove the nursery stake.
▪ Determine the height of the support tie by putting two fingers on the trunk 3 feet about the ground. Move fingers upward until the tree is supported enough to stand upright. Place ties 6 inches apart at this point.
▪ Select flexible, elastic ties, such as rubber tubing, for straps. Wrap them loosely around the trunk, securing them firmly to the posts and ensuring the trunk doesn’t rub against the stakes.
▪ Cut wooden stakes off 2-3 inches above the ties to avoid injuring lateral branches. Injured branches can become infested by insects or infected with pathogens.
▪ Regularly check the ties for girdling or restriction of the trunk. Make sure stakes are still upright and not damaging the trunk or branches.
▪ Remove the stakes and ties when the tree is able to stand upright on its own, in about one year.
For more information on staking trees, visit these websites:
Linda Lewis Griffith is a UCCE Master Gardener.
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