How to Protect Less Developed Trees
If you live in a location that has a lot of wind, such as the Front Range of Colorado, where mountain formations cause rapidly descending air over the top of the Rockies and out to the plains, you know the damage it can do to property, and especially to trees. It’s not unusual to see 40-foot trees that appear to be healthy being toppled by strong winds.
Cons of Staking a Tree
If a tree is vulnerable, one option is to stake it up by installing a couple solid posts and tieing the tree to it. Although it can be beneficial in some instances, many times the results are detrimental.
This post explains why:
There are situations when a tree needs some aid and support, but not as often as you would think. In most circumstances staking a tree can do more harm than good because it can become oppressive and constricting to the tree’s growth. A tree trunk’s natural movement actually helps to strengthen and stimulate the development of its roots. The “sway” of the trunk creates more room in the earth for the root system to spread and work their way deeper into the soil. Letting a tree grow without a stake also forces it to become a hardier sapling since it does not have a post to rely on for constant support. If you stake a tree, it may grow taller than one that is not staked, but it will have a weaker trunk and a sparser root system which means that your tree may not have the longevity most homeowners are looking for.
When is Tree Staking Necessary?
If the tree is young with a less-developed root ball but has a lot of foliage on top, that is a good example of a tree that would benefit from a tree stake. Also, areas with high winds or poor soil are other reasons to give a tree extra support.
If you decide your tree meets the criteria, there are some things to consider. The material used to tie the tree to the stakes needs to be flexible and soft, such as an intertube or bungee cord.
The stakes need to be placed carefully so they aren’t stabbing into the roots. By the second growing season, the stakes should be removed so the tree can support itself and begin to produce deep roots.
This video goes through the process of staking up a tree:
Our landscaping company planted an oak tree last year for a client that is tall, gangly, and top heavy, and with the soil being so sandy, we were worried it wouldn’t survive. We decided to stake it up, but it is loosely tied so it has room to sway.
However, a tree that is staked incorrectly will further compound the problems for a young tree. A tree that is attached to the stake too tightly will girdle the tree and do long-term damage because nutrients and water are not able to flow freely. But, if it is tied too loosely, the friction of the tie against the bark, causing wounds that won’t heal.
Another concern is stated in this post:
Stiff winds coursing through a dense crown of leaves can also spell trouble root ball to rock back and forth instead of remaining stationary, the winds prevent developing roots from taking hold. This excessive movement could lead to a “crowbar hole,” a gap that develops around the base of a tree where water collects, potentially causing root rot.
More here from FineGardening.com
By grabbing the trunk of the tree and moving it back and forth, if you see that the soil is loose and shifting, staking the tree up will be advantageous by giving the roots time to develop. In this instance, amending the soil and adding mulch around the base of the tree will also help it to retain moisture.
Call Front Range Landscaping Pros for more information on how to manage your Denver yard maintenance.