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This is a blog post about staking trees…or not staking trees. It might seem that all young trees need extra support but in fact, 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. They must learn to stand, or grow, on their own two feet.
However, there are times when you should stake trees, including:
- 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.
For the trees that do need to be staked, there a few simple rules to follow. You need the right materials for a start. MLC Group manufactures tree stakes in varying lengths. They’re pre-pointed, making it easier to hammer them into the ground,and they’re strong and durable with it. You’ll also need a sledgehammer to hammer the stakes – two stakes per tree – into the ground. Rubber ties or straps are essential too. These attach the stakes to the tree and you want good quality ones as they’ll be gentler on the fragile bark and tissue. NEVER use wire!
Now you have your stakes and ties, you need to pick the right spot. Place each stake on opposite sides of the tree, about 40 cm from the trunk. Also, ensure the stakes are facing the prevailing wind. When you’re sure the stakes will clear the rootball, drive each one about 50 cm into the ground.
Generally speaking, when staking trees in windy or sloping areas, ties or straps should be placed about 45 cm above the ground. If the tree has a fragile trunk and can’t support itself, place the straps or ties about 15 cm above the spot where the tree still stands upright before bending.
Tie the tree to each stake so that ties or straps are taut but not too taut –the tree should be able sway a little in the wind to encourage goodroot development.
The tree should only be staked for one growing season, until the root system has had a chance to properly set in. After removing the straps, it’s ok to leave the stakes in the ground to protect against foot traffic or powered equipment such as mowers or weed eaters. If you do remove the stakes, be gentle! Carefully dig around the base of each stake to loosen it and be sure you don’t disturb the roots.
Remember, not every tree needs staking. If you think otherwise, you’re barking up the wrong tree. But when staking is required, do it in a thoughtful and methodical way. Choose the right stakes, and good straps and ties. Correct positioning of the stakes, and careful removal when it’s time to take them out, will see that young tree grow up big and strong.