To Stake or Not to Stake
This is my site Written by GeoffM1968 on August 1, 2003 – 5:41 pm

As a matter of practice, Martin’s Yard & Garden does not stake trees or shrubs that we plant. We are often asked by our customers why we do not recommend staking. The answer is quite simple: staking, in most cases, is unnecessary and downright harmful! 

Staking produces a tree that is unnaturally tall and slender, like the spindly trees one sees growing under a mature forest canopy. Unlike their forest cousins, the landscape tree does not have the advantage of having other plants to protect it from Mother Nature. Trees unsupported in the landscape are forced to withstand nature’s winds, they develop a stronger, thicker trunks and a denser growth habit. 

Studies of unstaked trees also show that they have a better developed root system. Even after a year’s growth, you can pull a staked tree out of the ground without much effort. Unless you are planning to move your trees around like chess pieces, this is not a desirable feature in the urban landscape. 

Another danger of staking is the potential damage which can be caused by the ties. Ties which are not removed or loosened as the trunk grows will restrict the growth and cause girdling. Even stretch ties can cause damage. We constantly replace dead trees because of this cruel and senseless oversight. 

The tie or stake may also damage the trunk by rubbing against the bark. While this may not kill the tree outright, the open wound leaves the tree defenseless against an invasion of diseases, insects, and fungus. 

Also, the installed price of trees may increase from 15 to 30 percent because of staking. We always explain to our customers the cost of the procedure weighed against the benefits is very marginal. 

While staking or guying every tree is unnecessary and often times terminal there are a few times newly transplanted trees need additional support. For instance, in open areas, exposed to high prolonged winds. Another good use is when planting in shallow loose soils, over hardpan or bedrock. Stakes also act as barriers protecting trees from mowers and other equipment that could cause trunk injury. 

Unfortunately, we sometimes stake trees just because the customer likes the braced-tree appearance. In these cases we always make it a point to set up a time to comeback and remove all staking materials. 

If in doubt, do not stake or guy a tree. If you feel you absolutely must stake by all means do it correctly. Also, make it a point to remove the staking completely as soon as possible. Remember more trees are harmed by staking than not.

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Modified: March 7, 2009 at 5:43 pm UTC

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