Planting a tree has such promise for the future, and we plant not for today, but for tomorrow and the years to come. Major events will happen under that tree, as it grows to maturity, and we want to give it the best start in life, so that it will grow quickly, strongly and become a beautiful addition to our gardens and landscape. We all know the value of good soil preparation and appropriate planting techniques, but after that tree is in the ground, there is something else to do so it has the best start – stake it.
The staking of trees is often done for the wrong reasons, with poor methods, and with bad results. In fact, bad tree staking can be worse for the tree in the long-term than no staking at all, so it’s important to get it right. Up until a few years ago it was normal to place a single, heavy stake alongside a tree when planting, cut the stake off just below the place where the branches begin to create the crown of the tree, and then tie the tree with wire or rope tightly to the stake in several places. This method ignored the natural intelligence of trees, and encouraged breakage, despite good intentions.
Our Tree Stake Kit give you everything you need to use correct methods easily and quickly, knowing you have done the right thing. In the kit you will find a broad woven strap, colored black for low visibility. This strap wraps around the stem, supporting it broadly so as not to scar the bark of young trees. It has three brass no-rusting eyelets for easy attachment of the ropes, which are also black, making them almost invisible once installed. The ropes are very strong, and made of woven polypropylene, so they will never rot and break. These quickly thread through the pre-drilled holes in the black plastic stakes, which have solid ends for easy hammering, and sharp points to penetrate quickly into the ground.
When placing the strap around your tree, the goal is to hold the lower part of the trunk firmly, so that the root ball will not rock around – movement that damages the roots and stops the tree establish quickly and effectively. It is not desirable to support the upper part, as it should flex in the wind, stimulating sturdy growth and keeping the crown balanced. To find the correct height to attach the strap, start at the top of the trunk and slide your hand down to the place where the upper trunk starts to flex and bend naturally. Just above that point is the position where the strap should go. If the trunk never begins to bend, then attach the strap about 8 inches above the ground, so that the strings run horizontally or slightly downwards to the stakes. Make the strings taut enough to hold the strap firmly, but don’t over-tighten.
Why is This the Correct Staking Method?
First, the speed at which a tree develops a strong, sturdy trunk varies with its circumstances. Trees are smart enough to not waste their resources where they think they are not needed, and if the trunk of the tree does not move, it will not grow thicker. Instead, the energy of the tree will be diverted into growing a big crown. A tightly-staked tree has very little trunk movement, and this fools the tree into growing a large crown. When the stake is eventually removed, the crown is too big for the true strength of the trunk, and it can and will easily snap in a strong wind. Many trees break after the stake is removed – not because they need more staking, but because the staking itself has led to the breakage.
Secondly, if the trunk is held rigid all the way up to the crown, then all the stresses from wind are focused on the branches in the crown, rather than being absorbed by natural flexing of the trunk. Trees bend in the wind to protect themselves, so a tree held tightly will have branches breaking, and we create more damage, even though we are trying to reduce it.
So what to do? We could of course not stake at all, but that creates its own problems, chiefly for the good development of the roots. When we plant a tree we firm the soil down around the roots, as we should, but that doesn’t prevent the root-ball moving a little in the soil, as the trunk flexes in the wind. In an open, windy location this type of movement is going on all the time. The roots are sending out tiny new roots to explore the new soil around them, looking for water and nutrients. This is natural and necessary for the tree to establish itself properly. But those roots are thin and fragile. Once their tips anchor in the new ground, movement of the root ball – such as happens as the tree rocks in the wind – breaks that precious connection, and the process must start all over again and again.
This delay in rooting stunts the tree, reducing growth, making it dry and stressed during hot weather. It cannot access the nutrients it needs to grow. The result is a weak tree, with yellow leaves, constantly wilting and drooping. Growth is very slow, and you don’t get the results you expect.
Instead, with our Tree Stake Kit, you can easily attach the strap in just the right place, as described above, and keep the root-ball stable while allowing the trunk to thicken naturally – and do it without the risk of scarring the trunk. This top-selling system is discretely colored in black, and it is invisible from a short distance – you want to see your tree, not the staking system. For the best results and the best growth of your new tree, this is the staking system you need.