The Q&A Archives: Staking a tree

Question: I just planted a Japanese maple (Bloodgood) that I bought from Home Depot (your 7 gallon variety). There seems to be some disagreement from experts on both sides on weather or not to stake a tree. What is your recommendation? If you recommend staking the tree, what is your preferred method?

Answer: I suspect there will always be disagreement on whether or not to stake a newly planted tree. I vote for not staking, unless the planting site is constantly windy, in which case your new tree may lean and never grow upright. I base this opinion on the fact that if a tree is allowed to naturally sway in the wind it will develop a sturdy root system that will sustain it through seasonal windstorms. University research has proven this is so. However, if you decide to stake your tree, here's the best approach:
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.

Best wishes with your new maple tree.

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