Newly planted trees require staking if you live in a windy or storm-prone area. The goal of staking is to encourage straight trunk growth and to prevent the tree from being uprooted in a storm. It's important to understand the strategy behind staking as well as how to do it properly. The following guide can help.

The ins and outs of staking

A tree should never be staked so well that there is no trunk movement. This is because trees produce deeper and stronger anchoring roots in response to swaying in the breeze. Instead, a stake should act more like an anchor – it keeps the tree from uprooting but it doesn't prevent natural movement.

Larger trees or those with full canopies are more likely to need staking. This is because their canopy is often large in comparison to the newly planted root ball, so the roots are too small to provide a suitable anchor for the canopy when it it hit by the wind. Small saplings don't typically require stakes because they do not have a large enough canopy to catch the wind.

Choosing stakes and lines

Stakes need to be strong and long enough to do the job. You will need to insert about 2 feet of the stake into the ground, but it must still be long enough so the top of the stake comes up to just beneath the tree's canopy after installation.

Tree ties are specially made tie lines that feature a padded loop to go around the tree, which helps prevent damage to the trunk. You can make your own ties by sliding a section of old garden hose over a sturdy rope. The hose provides cushioning so the trunk isn't damaged by the rope.

Installation method

Soon after planting, install the stake 6 inches or so from the tree trunk. Loop the line around the stake and wrap it around the trunk, about 2/3 of the way between the tree canopy and the ground. Form a figure-eight loop between the trunk and stake so there isn't a knot to rub against the trunk, then tie the line off to stake. The line should be level and horizontal to the ground between the stake and trunk. This allows the tree to move slightly in the breeze without any tugging on the trunk that could lead to bark damage.

Inspect regularly

You will need to keep an eye on the tie to avoid trunk damage. Loosen the loop as the trunk grows in girth; otherwise, the line can cut into the trunk and kill the tree. Generally, the line only needs to stay in place for the first year after planting. By this point, the tree should have sufficient roots to stay well rooted on its own.

Contact a tree service such as Pete & Ron's Tree Service for more advice on staking or planting new trees.