Staking provides a young tree with the support it needs until the trunk is strong enough to hold it’s canopy upright. Careful attention must be paid to the way a tree is staked – if improperly done, staking can weaken a tree and cause serious damage and deformity. Though, most newly planted trees will grow better if they are not staked. By leaving the young tree to move freely in the wind, it will develop a better root system and a stronger, more tapered trunk. However, protective staking may be required on sites where lawn mower damage, vandalism or windy conditions are of concern.
Most trees will not need to be staked longer than a year, but should be left for at least one growing season. As soon as the tree can stand on its own, remove the stakes.
Follow the guidelines for properly staking a tree:
- Choose two strong stakes, preferably lodge poles. These stakes should be at least 6 feet tall, about 2 inches wide and pointed on one end to easily penetrate the ground.
- Determine the direction of the prevailing wind and insert the stakes exactly opposite one another, about 2 feet from the stem, in line with the wind. For example: if the wind direction is westerly, then place the stakes North & South.
- Drive the stakes vertically at least 2 feet into the ground. Try to bury the stakes so they are the same height above ground. When finished, stakes should stand upright at about 4 feet.
- Cut 2 pieces of flexible wire, each measuring at least 5 feet long. Also, cut up an old garden hose into 2 eighteen-inch lengths. Then, slip the hose over the wire, and wrap the hose around the tree to protect the trunk from the wire. Pull equal lengths of the wire parallel to the ground and attach to the top of the stake.
- Twist the wires together on the outside of the stake to make the wire taut and nip off any excess.