Every time we launch a new Master Gardener class, we warn the students, who are cheerful, happy and enthusiastic, that the class can sometimes made you jaded. Instead of seeing the beauty in the world, you start to see telephone pole trees, diseases and just general landscape practices that make you facepalm.
(photo courtesy of The Simpsons)
|Wince. Sob. Grimace.|
Do you see both areas that were girdled?
First of all, staking may not be necessary. You read that correctly. If you plant the tree properly (see a step-by-step here), staking materials may not be needed. Staking has been found to decrease trunk taper, increase height but decrease caliper, develop a smaller root system and suffer from girdling, which can kill a tree. There's only a few instances where someone should use stakes:
1. Planting trees in a windy site. Now, don't just use the disclaimer that Colorado (or North Dakota or Tennessee) is windy. We're talking WIND. Perpetual wind. So windy that if you wore a toupee, you'd probably move out of the area.
2. Planting in an area with many people activities. In general, trees planted in parks, golf courses and right-of-ways may fit into this category. If your backyard has a soccer game every night of the week, then staking is probably a good idea.
3. To support trees that cannot stand up on their own. And this leads to another peeve. You should never, ever buy a tree that flops over. Never. There is no excuse. As consumers, we should be proactive in only buying quality nursery stock. I know it was a good deal and that you felt sorry for it...but don't buy a floppy tree.
|No, don't even think about it! Don't buy this tree! Move away from the floppy trunk.|
But let's say you want to stake. Because staking your trees is like a hamburger with cheese. It just not right without it. If you stake, follow these suggestions:
1. Use canvas staking straps with grommets in either end. It was found that wire or even hose with wire was found to girdle trees lickity-split. So using the wider canvas straps will help distribute pressure along the trunk.
|The proper staking strap.|
3. Keep the straps low on the trunk. They should be placed no higher than 2/3 the height of the tree. Again, the lower straps allows movement of the tree.
4. Remove all staking materials within one year following planting. Various research has found that staking straps can cause injury even a couple months after planting. The day you plant your tree, make a note on next year's calendar to take off the straps. It's very easy to forget staking straps and then your poor tree suffers.
|Poor suffering tree. I bet he feels foolish around his friends because he has a dumb staking strap growing out of his trunk.|