Tree Staking - To Do, Or Not To Do?
It was thought that putting a stake up after a newly planted tree was the essential thing to do. But it is not always necessary to do so. If a new tree is planted properly there is really no need to be using stakes.
What is Tree Staking?
So what is ‘tree staking’? You have most likely seen this before. ‘Tree staking’ is when a stake is put into the ground, and material is wrapped around the tree to help stabilize a newly planted tree while it is growing. Usually a combination of wire, rubber, cloth and metal or wood stakes are used when staking a tree.
Usually the tree stakes will be removed after one year from when the tree was planted. After the one year mark the tree will usually have its roots established and the tree trunk will begin to grow outward. Tip: Keep your eye on the roots of the tree. If there is no more movement near the root of your tree then you most likely no longer need to have the stake in place.
Though tree staking can sometimes have a positive impact on your tree, it can also cause a lot of harm if done improperly or if the tree staking was not needed in the first place.
How do you Know if you Should Stake your Tree?
One of the first things to consider when deciding to stake a tree is if you have a tree with a bare-root or a root-ball. Root-balls are bottom heavy and are able to stand without the help of stakes. Where a bare-root tree will not be as sturdy and can benefit from using a stake.
Pros of Staking
When done properly - staking can help stabilize a newly planted tree. Staking is helpful to some trees, like a bare root tree. Staking is also helpful in areas with very high winds or if the soil happens to be shallow.
If your tree is top heavy (has a larger amount of leaves) and has a small root ball, then choosing to add stakes is a good idea! A stake will help keep the tree stable and let the roots grow into the soil.
Aside from helping stabilization, a tree stake can also act as a barrier and protect the tree and it’s roots from lawn equipment or even vandalism.
If a tree is going to be staked it is a good idea to monitor the tree and stakes to make sure everything is going well.
Although Cutting Edge does not recommend using stakes for new trees, we do suggest that stakes are used if you are looking to re-correct a tree that is leaning significantly to one side. The stakes can be used to correct the growth of the tree.
Cons of Staking
Staked trees usually tend to grow taller rather than wider initially, this makes for a thinner and therefore weaker trunk. Also this can lead to the roots not being well formed into the ground. The tree needs to have a stable trunk to grow properly.
Naturally trees move in the wind - this is good! Did you know that trees that are able to move freely in the breeze grow better and will live longer? Trees are made to sway in the breeze. Some trees need the movement to help stimulate growth. The movement can also help with root and stem development.
Many new trees do not need to be staked. Staked/tied trees can grow abnormally. It is also a possibility for the tree to die from ‘tie-wire strangulation.’
Not all Trees Need to be Staked
Staking a tree that does truly not need to be staked can be harmful to the tree.
If the tree is staked too tightly, girdling (which is the removal of bark around the entire circumference of a tree) can occur which and will severely weaken the tree. Sometimes girdling may even kill a tree. With strong winds, the top of a tree can actually break off if it is wrapped too tight to a strong stake.
Also when a tree is staked too tightly it can cause the top half of the trunk to become thicker. This will result in unsmooth flow of water/nutrients to the rest of the developing tree.
On the opposite hand tying a tree too loosely to the stake can also harm the tree. With a loose tie, the bark will be constantly rubbing on the tie causing wounds to the tree and an entry point for pests and disease.
Although movement is needed for a tree to grow properly, too much movement can result in damage.Too much movement near the trunk can cause a problem where excess moisture can collect and lead to the trunk/roots to rot. This is called a ‘crowbar hole’.
Whether you decide to stake a tree or not - monitor the tree well. Be sure to look at the ties to determine if they are too tight or too loose. The stakes should be removed as soon as the roots are established into the dirt.
Edgy suggests that if you are deciding to plant a new tree in your yard that you do not have stakes installed. Stakes are not truly needed in most cases and will usually cause more harm than good to your new tree.