The Q&A Archives: Staking a Leaning Tree

Question: I bought a new ornamental crabapple tree last week. It came with a bamboo stake tied to the trunk, but even so the trunk veers off to one side about one fourth of the way down from the crown. Should I use a sturdier stake when I plant it or will it straighten on its own?

Answer: If your crabapple is leaning, you'll want to straighten it out while it's still young. Remove the small bamboo stake and plant the tree. Then drive 3 stakes into the ground just outside the rootball area, in a triangle pattern around the tree. Tie the trunk of the tree to each of the stakes so that it stands straight and tall. Check the ties every few months to make sure they're not digging into the bark of the tree trunk. You can safely leave the tree tied to the stakes for about a year, which will allow plenty of time for the roots to become established. Once your tree is firmly anchored in the ground you can remove the stakes and ties. After this treatment the trunk should not lean, but continue to grow straight.

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