Staking a tree

Watch our practical video to discover the best way to stake a tree.

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Staking a tree is an important part of the planting routine, helping it to establish a stable root system. In this video guide, David Hurrion explains which sizes of tree will benefit from staking and runs through the whole process.

David demonstrates how to remove a section of the rootball to accommodate the stake close to the main stem. Next, he shows how to correctly position the stake and cuts it to the optimum length for anchoring the tree against strong winds. David then shares advice on securely attaching the stake to the tree before returning the excavated soil and topping off with a thick mulch of well-rotted organic matter.

Find out how to stake a tree to give it the best possible start, in our practical video.

Be sure to regularly check that the tie isn’t constricting the main stem of your tree, loosening it if necessary to accommodate growth. The root system should be sufficiently established within 18 months to two years, after which you can remove the stake.

Staking a tree: transcript

When you’re planting a tree, with all the time and effort that goes into it, you want to make sure that that tree gets away to a really good start in life. And staking is a really crucial aspect of that. When you’re planting small trees, though, things like this, they can establish their roots and grow away really quickly, without any need for staking, because they don’t present much top growth that is going to get buffeted by the wind. But most of us go to the garden centre and buy something like this, a nice lightweight standard or semi-standard tree. And this is going to move around in the wind and the roots can become loosened by that movement, unless you stake it.

So the key thing to do is to make sure that you’ve taken out a hole large enough to accommodate the roots and take a slot out in the tree, close to the stem, so that you can get a stake in there close to the main stem to support it. So, what we’re going to do, is we’re going to go knock this stake into the ground. We’re going to knock it in at a 45 degree angle, in the direction of the prevailing wind. So, the prevailing wind here is coming from the southwest and I’m going to knock it into the ground here, on this side of the tree, so that it supports the tree and helps to support it against that prevailing wind.

This stake is really a lot longer than it needs to be, so I can actually saw this off. Just lift the tree until you’ve got the tree upright in relation to the stake; and where the stake crosses over the tree trunk, just above there, is where we need to cut this stake off. So what I’m going to do is just roughly mark with my finger, how long I want the stake to be and then I’m going to lift the tree out of position and I’m just going to saw this off here. So, with the stake cut to length, we can now put the tree back in  position,  with that slot lining up again with the stake, so that it’s crossing the trunk in the right place; and now we can be ready to tie it to the stake securely.

Now, there are lots of tree ties on the market, but my preferred type is this one. This is an old fashioned type of tree tie. It’s really like a belt, with its own buckle and a tree spacer that comes with it. I tend to dispense with that spacer – put that to one side and just use the tree tie straight on, like a belt around the tree and the stake. So, hold the tree tie in position, where you’re going to position it, and then wrap that around the top of the stake, once, twice. And also, that plastic or rubber acts as a buffer between the tree and the top of the stake; through the buckle and pull it tight against the tree and then pass it through the other part of the buckle, like so. So there we are – we’ve got a buffer between the tree and the top of the stake; and it’s worth just using a nail in the top of the buckle, just to secure it and hold it in position.

We’re now in a position to return the soil around the tree and get finished planting, give the tree a shake and push some of the soil in around the bottom of the tree. Make sure your tree’s upright and then get in and firm in with the heel of your boot. And what you can do is, once you’ve filled in all the way round the top of the plant, you can top it off over the surface with this lovely mulch of well rotted compost. So you’d need about a two inch layer or a 50mm layer of that all over the rootball root area. And that will just be taken down by the worms, feed the plant, get it off to a rip roaring start. So I’ll just get finished.