Young trees do not usually require staking because the ability to sway freely in the wind contributes to a strong trunk and root system, but staking is helpful under some circumstances. Young, bare-root trees and trees located in high-wind areas can benefit from staking until the root system grows and establishes in the soil and the trunk strengthens. While stakes should prevent extreme movement that can lead to uprooting, the tree should still be able to sway slightly in normal winds. Rather than tying a trunk rigidly to a stake, use polyethylene strips or webbing to support the tree.
1 Cut wooden stakes to 5-foot lengths, using a hand saw or power saw. You can purchase wooden stakes with a pre-sharpened end in lengths anywhere between 1 foot and 10 feet long, so cutting is unnecessary if you purchase 5-foot stakes. Alternatively, you can cut one end of a 2-by-2-inch piece of lumber to a point. A tree with a trunk less than 3 inches in diameter only needs one stake, but you can use two or three stakes, if desired.
2 Position the first stake about 18 to 24 inches inches out from the trunk on the windward side of the tree -- the side where the wind blows most frequently. Hold a level against the side of the stake to ensure the stake is perfectly plumb. Drive the stake into the ground 18 inches deep, using a rubber mallet to pound the top of the stake. This leaves 3-1/2 feet of stake protruding above ground.
3 Wrap a length of 3-inch wide polyethylene strapping or webbing around the tree trunk, positioned 3 feet above ground or 6 inches from the top of the stakes. The length of the strapping or webbing should measure twice the distance of the stake to the tree, plus about 6 inches extra. Use a 4 1/2-foot length for stakes positioned 2 feet out from the trunk.
4 Pull the ends of the strap back toward the stake, with equal lengths of strap on each side. Cross the two ends of the strap to form a figure-eight pattern and staple each end to the wooden stake, using a staple gun and wood staples.
5 Install a second stake on the opposite side of the tree, positioned 18 inches out from the trunk. Wrap the webbing or strapping around the tree just below the level where you attached the webbing or strapping for the first stake.
Items you will need
- 5-foot wooden stakes
- Measuring tape
- Rubber mallet
- Polyethylene strapping or webbing
- Staple gun
- Wood staples
- Polyethylene straps and webbing work best because they're slightly flexible, which allows the tree to sway in the wind and accommodates any tree growth without girdling the trunk.
- If you live in an area with frequent high winds, you might prefer to use three stakes to support the tree. Position the three stakes evenly around the tree. Wrap the webbing just above the webbing from the first stake.
- Remove the stakes and straps after one year when the roots become established in the soil.
- Colorado State University Extension: Tree Staking and Underground Stabilization
- The Home Depot: Staking a Tree
- University of Florida IFAS Extension: Staking Trees
- North Carolina State University Extension: Trees -- Staking Recent Transplants
- Birds & Blooms: Proper Tree Staking for Young Trees
- Fine Gardening: To Stake or Not to Stake
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images