Staking newly planted trees is necessary to prevent wind rock and movement of the roots. Movement can tear new roots, slowing down establishment. A newly planted tree will take a couple of years to anchor itself firmly in the soil.
Ways to stake trees
There are a number of different staking methods, depending on the type of tree, tree size and method of planting. All stakes should penetrate the soil to at least 60cm deep. If the stake moves in the ground, it will not anchor the plant.
This is the standard method of staking container-grown and rootballed trees with a girth size lower than 20cm girth. Two or three stakes can be inserted opposite each other, or equally spaced around the tree outside the root ball, and secured to the trunk by long ties or a timber crossbar and tie. This method is also useful on windy sites.
Check stakes and ties every year to avoid tight tree ties damaging the stems and to replace any ties that have frayed or broken.
Stakes should be inserted on the side of the prevailing wind so that the tree is blown away from the stake.
Using tree ties
Special tree ties are available made of durable, long-lasting plastic, with buckles for fastening and adjustment.
- These ties can be loosened as the tree girth expands
- Use spacers to prevent the stem and stake rubbing against each other
- Make a figure of eight to hold the tree to the stake, with the spacer in between the tree and the stake, and secure the tie to the stake with a nail
In an emergency an old pair of tights can be used as a rough and ready tree tie.
Guying is particularly useful for large trees or ones that don’t lose their coverage in the winter months, such as cedars and pines. These are secured by strong wire to low stakes inserted at a 45 degree angle away from the tree, prevent rubbing by covering the wire with rubber hosepipe where it is wrapped around the stem or branches of the tree. This will ensure that the wind shouldn’t move the top of the tree and cause the young damage to the young roots in spring as they are rooting out.
These anchoring systems are much more robust and stronger than standard above ground staking and should be seen as an investment with your trees. They are used very easily on rootballed trees and are installed at time of planting when the tree pit is open. Apart from the fact they will hold the tree secure and firm in the ground once installed, they is nothing on show above the ground to spoil the appearance of the tree, no leverage points for the wind or any trip hazards which is great for young children playing in the garden or a public space. Once the trees grows on and roots out, the wire will biodegrade naturally in the soil. These are highly recommended for larger trees.
Most problems with staking come from ties becoming too tight or from damage after storms.
- Check the ties regularly for rubbing and adjust if necessary. Constriction of the stem by ties happens very quickly, so fast growing trees need frequent checking
- After bad weather, check for abrasion and snapped stakes or ties
Deer, rabbits and other mammals may harm newly planted trees. This can be prevented by using tree protectors.