Thursday, February 24, 2011

Un-Stake Trees & Remove Guy Wires to Avoid Damage & Help Trees Thrive

Most young trees planted six months to a year don't need to remain staked. Staking is like training wheels; they are best taken off quickly.

After planting in fall, trees are typically staked to ensure that they stay upright and straight while their root systems get established in the new location, and that they remain standing without support and don’t blow over during windstorms. This requires that the roots grow an inch or two into the surrounding soil.

How do Crabapple LandscapExperts determine if a tree needs to be staked?

If a tree has a small root ball, it is good to stake
If a tree has a large crown that may act like a sail, catching the wind and causing the tree to blow over, it is staked.
If a tree is in a windy area where it might blow over before its roots become established, it's worth staking.
If a tree is in a heavily used area, where people might lean on it or children will play on it, staking is worthwhile.
If a tree is located along a busy street or parking lot where it is likely that cars will bump it, or in an area where heavy equipment is used, it is best to stake.

But staking is not forever. Staking has probably killed as many trees as it has helped because half of them were never unstaked. Crabapple LandscapExperts check about once a month to make sure the guy wire isn't digging into the bark of any newly planted trees. If it seems too snug, they loosen it slightly.

When to Unstake? 
After several months, when the young tree is established in its permanent location, the stakes have served their function and need to go. If a tree can't stand on its own by then, there's a problem that staking can't fix. Wires can bite into the rapidly growing trunk and cut into the cambium layer, girdling or strangling the tree to death.

Support roots and flexible "reaction wood" of the newly established tree will allow the tree to reach its maximum potential in a landscape maintained by Crabapple LandscapExperts

Illustrations courtesy of Orange Garden Supply and Missouri Extension Service

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