To Stake or Not to Stake? How to Support a Leaning Tree

When planting a tree, there are a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to staking and tree support systems. On one hand, the idea of staking is that it provides the tree with support until its anchor roots develop. But the other side of the argument is that as trees sway, un-staked, the movement will strengthen the roots.

Generally, stakes are used for temporary support for saplings that need some help in establishing their growth. If you have a younger tree in a wind-prone area, staking is recommended.

But what about a more mature tree with a lean? We’re not here to argue what exactly is considered the one true method, since it all depends on the tree. What we will say is that leaning trees can be helped!

Types of Tree Support Systems to Consider

Guying
Guying is the process of supporting a tree and restricting its movement using a cable or cables attached from the tree to a stable anchor (sometimes even another sturdier tree). Guying is most effective in saving the tree if you put it in place as soon as possible after the tree is damaged or begins to lean.

Staking
Staking involves spacing stake supports of wood or metal in the ground evenly around the tree and attaching the tree to the stakes with cables or ropes. As mentioned, staking is best for stabilizing a young tree to help establish a root ball. However, staking may damage the tree bark if not done properly.

Brace Rods
Brace rods are sturdy metal rods that are drilled into the trunk of trees to restrict movement and provide support in a single positon, usually with cables. Brace rods are used in extreme cases and should only be installed by a qualified arborist.

When to Remove Supports and WHen to Call It Quits

Most tree support methods should be left to do their work for months or several growing seasons. A very large leaning tree can become risky fast. Only an arborist is qualified to determine whether a large tree can be saved or if it needs to be removed.

The rule of thumb is that a leaning tree that is more than 25 feet tall should be evaluated by a professional. If a tree is leaning towards property or common areas, it should be evaluated as soon as possible.

If you have trees leaning slightly, or even dangerously, give Paul Bunyan, Inc. a call to have a professional arborist check your plant health out!

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