The Q&A Archives: Leaning Arborvitaes

Question: I have 17 Arborvitaes that were planted 6 years ago. This winter the ice & snow causes 3 of them to lean over from the weight, one of them almost to the ground. I was told that they would straighten up on their own but they still are leaning over. Is there anything I can do to help them along?

Answer: They will probably straighten up on their own over time but you can encourage them to grow more upright by staking them. Start by driving three stakes around your tree, about 2' away from the trunk and equally spaced from one another. Use soft, pliable material for ties and tie the tree trunk with three separate pieces of material, each secured to a single stake. By looping the material around the trunk and a single stake, you can put more tension where it's needed to straighten the tree, and use the other two to help secure it in it's new position. Depending upon how pronounced the lean is, you may only have to lightly tie the tree. If it's a severe lean, tie the tree fairly low down on the trunk and pull the tie tight, without actually cutting into the bark of the trunk. Then use a second tie slightly higher on the trunk and adjust the tension of both ties. Keep doing this until the tree is reasonably straight, but don't overdo it or try to straighten the tree all at once! The supports should be adjusted as the tree begins to grow straighter. Don't leave the ties on for more than a year and rememeber to check periodically that the ties are not damaging the bark. Good luck with your arborvitaes!

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