As if a newly planted tree might suddenly up and runaway, homeowners have this ceaseless urge to anchor it to the earth. Where do they think the tree will go? I don’t know, but I’ve seen all sorts of creative ways to tie down helpless trees. Ropes, rubber hoses, even shepherd’s hooks; there are some mighty imaginative tree lovers out there.
I know it’s only because they think they are doing the right thing, but there are really only two situations where a tree needs to be staked. In no way are you going to straighten an established crooked trunk. So, if the tree was acquired as a bare root tree and does not have an established root ball to anchor it, or if the tree is planted in an extremely windy site (which is not really the best scenario anyway) then stake it for one year.
The life of the tree, contained in the vascular tissue, lies just below the bark of a tree and takes water and nutrients back and forth from the roots to the leaves. As a tree grows, anything that is tied around it remains. It doesn’t break open with the growing tree – the tree bark just grows around it. Then as the bark starts to swallow the material that is binding the tree, eventually the vascular tissue is severed and decline of the tree follows – a sad situation called girdling.
If you have to wrap something around your tree, be sure to remove it after one year. And if you must stake your tree for some reason, be sure not to stake it too tightly, so that it has some room to move when a wind comes. Otherwise, if it is staked too tautly, the trunk might snap in two when pushed to its limits. And I’d say that’s worse than girdling.
So, do your trees a favor and skip the staking. And save your time and money too.