JoAnne Skelly: Tree staking not tree bondage | NevadaAppeal.com

JoAnne Skelly: Tree staking not tree bondage

Since fall is the best time to plant trees, here is information on staking new trees.

The ideal is to avoid staking or guying trees if at all possible. What determines the need for staking is the size and type of tree, the size of the root mass, wind conditions for the site, soil type and moisture.

Trees less than six feet tall should not need staking. However, larger trees may not have a big enough root system to support them at planting.

Trees that are staked may be damaged by rubbing and girdling from stakes and ties.

The trunk will be stressed more at the point of stake attachment and subject to increased breakage. Staked trees provide more wind resistance because the top of the tree is not allowed to move much. They develop weak wood from the staked position down toward the base of the tree since trunk movement is required for optimum strength of wood during development and growth. Staked trees produce less roots. All of these effects of staking make a tree more subject to injury and less able to support itself (Iowa State University, https://www.extension.iastate.edu/forestry/tree_planting/stake.html).

The way to stake a tree is not to hold up the trunk, but to stabilize the root ball with at least three stakes to which tie materials can be fastened. Tie material must not damage the trunk. Wide soft cloth, wide rubber belts, nylon stockings or wide commercially available ties work. Don't use wire, string, rope or fishing line. Wires in garden hoses are not as good as wider softer materials.

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Fasten the ties at less than one-third of the total height of the tree to anchor the root ball. For small trees with trunks that bend in the wind, the attachment point should be on the trunk six inches above the point where the trunk can be held and return upright after its top is deflected. If the tree is staked too tightly so that it does not move, the risk of the tree breaking just above the staking point is increased (Iowa State University).

In most cases, the stakes and ties should be removed after one or two growing seasons. For large trees, two to three years of support may be necessary. Minimal staking time reduces the adverse effects of staking.

Strong trunk formation is promoted by movement of the stem. Almost all trees staked beyond two years have greater probability of breakage than trees which are staked for shorter periods of time.

JoAnne Skelly is Associate Professor & Extension Educator, Emerita at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. She can be reached at skellyj@unce.unr.edu.

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