One of the big problems with tree staking is all too often people believe all trees need staking and do not allow nature to take its own course in helping a tree grow strong. By not staking a tree, it will often build a substantial diameter of the trunk so it can withstand high winds, and of course it means less maintenance as you do not need to remove the stake and adjust the ties at a later date. What about when you do need to stake and tie a tree?
A) The tree has bare roots and will take time to anchor itself.
B) The tree is going to be exposed to high winds.
Point B is why you often see many newly planted trees on the edge of a forest staked because they are exposed to the winds that the UK endures.
Tips for staking and tying your tree
Quite often you may spot (as I do) a poorly staked tree with ties that are doing it more harm than good.
I stake should be driven into the ground by at least 25% of its length to ensure it can support a tree when under strain. The height will often be at least a metre
When using a single or double stake (two stakes placed vertically at 90 degrees either side of the tree), ensure that the tree is placed a distance away from the stake(s), so in essence the tree does not use them for actual support.
With an angled stake you may want to drive the stake in the ground before planting the tree to ensure there is no damage caused to the roots if they are already extending any distance. Remember to use a pad to prevent the stake chafing against the bark of the tree and causing damage. A flexible tie is recommended because you still do want the tree to become reliant on the stake as this form of staking is mainly used to counteract prevailing winds.
Guy staking is more often seen used for large trees that have been transplanted to a new location. Because of the use of wire it is very important to ensure the wire is wrapped with rubber and protects the tree from getting cut and ensure it is done so it not only protects the trunk but any branches too.
My advice is to not use wire when tying the tree (unless using the guying method). As you can see we do not stock any form of wire for tying trees, it is all plastic and natural materials. That is not to say they will not cause damage, but they are less prone to cutting into the bark of the tree.
The main problems I see are the ties are initially too tight or that the tree over time is not cared for and maintained so the ties are not loosened as the tree grows. This means we return to the problem of the tree not being able to sway, build up its natural strength to resist wind and the energy of the tree is then put into growing upwards making it a liability to fall over.
The thing to remember is that staking and tying a tree is not about supporting it every day even when there is a still breeze, but helping it not get blown over on windy days or from unexpected knocks (deer will often rub against tress with their antlers). I recommend planning in your diary when you can revisit the young trees to check on their progress and to adjust the stake and tie as necessary and a date when you will remove the stake so you do not end up damaging the trees by strangulation as the width of the trees trunk expands. This will also save yourself or your company money as you can reuse some materials which have withstood the elements and can be put to good use again.