How to stake a tree with wire


Staking and guying trees | UMN Extension

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Quick facts

  • Staking provides support to newly planted or damaged trees, but is not always necessary.
  • Stem attachment materials should be wide and flexible to prevent damage to the tree.
  • Straightening wind blown trees is possible, but can be difficult and depends on many factors.
Double staking method. Always attach the stem loosely to the stakes to allow for flexibility.

When is staking necessary?

Staking is often unnecessary. Occasionally, newly planted trees may require staking when:

  • They have unusually small root systems that can’t physically support the larger, above-ground growth (stem and leaves).
  • The stem bends excessively when not supported.
  • The planting site is very windy and trees will be uprooted if they are not supported.
  • There’s a good chance that vandals will uproot or damage unprotected trees.

Install the staking or guying attachments at planting time or straightening time and leave them in place for one growing season.

If done properly, staking provides stability until the tree can support itself. However, if staking is done poorly or for too long, it can do far more harm than good.

Materials

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Staking a tree

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One stake attached two-thirds up a tree stem Two-stake method, attached one-third up a tree stem Three stake method for supporting trees Guyed tree with attachments on canopy stem Guying system for a conifer tree Stakes connected at the top of a conifer tree

Wind thrown trees

Wind thrown tree

Occasionally, wind thrown trees can be straightened and saved. The success of this technique depends on several key factors, however:

  • It must be a true wind throw. That is, the roots must be pushing up through the heaved soil.
    • If the tree is leaning or horizontal and there is no evidence that the roots are pushing up and heaving the soil, then the tree stem probably broke off below ground and is essentially lost.
  • Straightening a wind thrown tree is most successful when the trees are relatively small: Up to 15-20 feet in height and a stem diameter of six inches or less. 
    • Larger trees may be straightened, but it takes a skilled tree care company with special equipment to perform the operation.
  • The roots must still be alive. 
    • If they have dried out or if it’s several days after the windstorm, the chances of success are greatly reduced.
  • The soil must be moist. 
    • Straightening trees in dry soil conditions, especially in clay soil, is generally not a very successful operation.
  • The tree should be in good health. 
    • If the tree was diseased, infested with insect pests or otherwise stressed, the chances of survival are not very good.
  • Shallow-rooted species (e.g. maples) may be straightened with more success than deep-rooted species (e.g. walnut).

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Excavate under up-rooted root system. Straighten with winch. Backfill, water, mulch, install guy wires and anchors.

Splinting trees

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Gary R. Johnson, Extension forestry specialist and associate professor of urban and community forestry and Tracy Few, researcher, University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources

Reviewed in 2020

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How to Stake a Tree the Right Way (So It'll Never Fall Over)

Photo: istockphoto.com

Many new trees do just fine on their own. In fact, the movement they experience from normal wind and weather helps these yard young’uns develop strong root systems and solid trunk girth. But new trees in open areas often require staking early in their lives. “This prevents leaning while the tree is being established,” says Gary Schermerhorn, arborist and a district manager for Davey Trees in King of Prussia, Pa.

Though new trees in protected areas might not need help, there are several scenarios in which it’s beneficial—even necessary—to stake a tree during its first growing season. For example, a new tree planted on a slope or exposed to very strong winds usually requires some temporary stabilization.

Trees must be staked properly or tree staking can backfire and damage a tree. This guide will help your new tree become a truly upstanding citizen!

What You Need to Know Before Staking a Tree

Once you plant or transplant a tree and know it likely needs staking, the next step comes in learning how to brace a tree to help, but not hurt, it. Once it’s staked properly, your tree only needs help for so long, so know when it’s ready to hold its own.

When Does a Tree Require Staking?

Photo: istockphoto.com

Most new trees planted in the open benefit from help to get started. The usual culprit is wind, which can bend the tree and affect its upright growth. In some cases, strong wind might blow a young tree right out of the ground or break its main trunk. New trees establishing roots in sandy soil are more likely to need staking.

Bare-root trees typically need staking as their root balls grow, and a new tree that does not stand up well on its own or begins to lean after planting needs proper staking. Top-heavy trees with a dense crown of leaves, tall trees with small root balls, and those exposed to foot traffic (near a sidewalk, for example) often need staking.

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Some trees are more susceptible to wind damage, and a few tree types almost always need staking; these include eucalyptus trees, acacias, and mesquite hybrids, among others. When in doubt, stake a new tree, but only properly and for no more than a year.

How Long Should a Tree be Staked?

It usually takes a full growing season for a tree to grow sturdy roots. So, if you plant and stake a tree in spring, remove the stake in fall, and vice versa. The tree needs a little time to stand on its own instead of becoming dependent on the tree stakes and ties. Some movement from wind helps the tree develop a strong structure.

So, avoid staking a tree and forgetting about it. “If any material is used to wrap around the trunk of a tree, it should be removed after one year,” says Schermerhorn. Wires, in particular, can girdle and damage a trunk. Staking a tree too long actually can lead to poor trunk growth and a smaller diameter.

Photo: istockphoto.com

How To Stake a Tree Using Tree Stakes and Staking Straps

Tree stakes and straps can support a young or leaning tree, and you can find good quality tree support straps or make your own. Just be sure to take the time to do it right when you stake a tree.

Tools & Materials
  • Tree stakes (2)
  • Sledgehammer
  • Tree staking straps (2)

STEP 1: Get the goods.

You’ll need two tree stakes at least, and up to four stakes, plus tree-staking straps to tie them to the trunk. To DIY your own stakes, taper the points of 6- to 8-foot long, 2×2 pieces of lumber. Or you can purchase stakes, made of treated wooden posts, and nylon or rubber ties online, from big box home improvement stores, or from local nurseries.

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Many DIYers use a rope or wire covered with a piece of rubber hose for a flexible and soft wrap on tree trunks. But the best bet is tree support straps, which are designed specifically for staking trees. “Broad, strong strapping, such as ArborTie, works fine,” says Schermerhorn. Avoid using wire or ropes that can rub and cut into the trunk. Larger trees might need ground anchors, steel cable, and lag hooks, Schermerhorn adds.

STEP 2: Drive the tree stakes.

Place each stake on opposite sides of the tree, about 15 to 18 inches away from the trunk, ensuring they will clear the root ball. Drive each stake into the ground with a sledgehammer, about 18 inches deep, but with enough height above the ground level to where you will tie the tree support straps.

STEP 3: Pick the right spot.

In general, to anchor small trees exposed to high winds or on slopes, place the straps about 18 inches above the ground. In the case of a tree with a flimsy trunk that can’t support itself, place the straps about 6 inches above the spot where the tree can stand upright.

STEP 4: Support the trunk.

Tie the tree to each stake with flat tree-staking straps, so that they are taut but not so tight that the tree cannot move. You want to let the tree sway a bit in the wind, which encourages strong root development.

Flat straps provide a large surface area to distribute pressure and avoid damage to the trunk. Be especially cautious if using homemade wire-in-hose straps: Stretch them too tight and they’ll injure the sensitive tissues just under the bark, essential for taking up water and nutrients.

STEP 5: Untie in a timely manner.

Remember, you should only stake a young tree for one growing season, until the root system has had a chance to spread out and set in. After removing the straps, you can leave the stakes in the ground as protection from foot traffic and lawn equipment if they don’t pose a hazard.

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If you choose to remove the stakes, dig gently around the base of each one to loosen it, being careful not to disturb the roots. Keep your straps and stakes if they are still in good condition to be used for the next tree you plant that requires staking.

With good care and a little luck, your new trees should bring joy to your family and beauty to your property for generations.

Photo: istockphoto.com

Tips for Staking Trees in Windy Areas

Wind actually helps trees, but sometimes too much of a good thing requires supporting a young or leaning tree.

  • When staking the tree, support it, but don’t pull the ties too tightly. The tree needs some flexibility and movement to grow strong.
  • It is best to use at least two stakes. In high-wind areas, place them perpendicular to the prevailing wind.
  • Place the ties or straps around the tree trunk so they are no higher than ⅔ of the tree’s height.
  • Large evergreen trees have higher wind resistance, and the support is designed to prevent tipping over in strong winds.

FAQ About How to Stake a Tree

Should I stake a leaning tree?

Causes of leaning trees vary, and might affect whether staking will help. Staking a young tree after planting can help prevent leaning caused by wind. Weather events can damage trees. A tree also might lean because the root ball shifted in the ground, which might involve some underground intervention. Try to determine when your tree started leaning and whether it is exposed to wind, then stake properly and temporarily.

How do you stake tall, skinny trees?

The trick to helping stabilize a tree that is top heavy or very tall and thin is to protect the trunk while helping to keep the root ball steady underground. Use of three stakes gives the skinny tree the most support, as long as each strap or guide wire is not too tight or too loose and that you properly protect the trunk from rubbing or girdling. Wrap them around the tree about 6 inches above the spot where the tree can stand upright.

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How do you stake a tree for wind?

Remember that some sway or movement gives the new tree a workout. Avoid tightening the straps or wires so tight that the tree can’t budge. A strong wind might cause the trunk to snap where the guides attach. Make sure the ties are flexible but tight enough to keep the tree from blowing over completely. Place the stakes perpendicular to the prevailing wind.

Can you straighten a bent tree trunk?

You can gently straighten the trunk of a tree that leans so badly that it affects the tree’s growth. If possible, use guy wires and wooden or metal stakes to brace the tree, driving stakes deep enough to hold, but making sure they are tall enough to wrap the ties or guides a little more than halfway up the trunk. Have a helper push the trunk upright carefully before tightening the straps. Leave the stakes in place for a year before checking to see if the tree is standing tall.

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Shaping bonsai with wire

Shaping bonsai with wire

The use of wire is the most important method of shaping bonsai. By wrapping tree branches with wire, you can bend them and give them the desired shape and position. It will take several months before the branches "remember" the new shape; after that, the wire can be removed.

Wire laying time

Most tree species can be wired all year round. During the growing season, the branches thicken rather quickly, and as a result, the wire can cut into the bark, leaving ugly scars on it. Check your tree regularly and remove the wire in a timely manner.

Choosing the wire

It is important to choose the right wire for your bonsai. Generally, two types of wire are used: anodized aluminum wire and annealed copper wire. Beginners are advised to use anodized aluminum wire, which is easier to use and is available in most (online) bonsai shops. The wire of different section is on sale: from 1 to 8 mm. There is no need to buy wire in all available sizes; for starters, it is enough to purchase a wire with a cross section of 1mm, 1.5mm and 2.5mm. Before winding thick branches, it is recommended to pre-wrap them with raffia, which will protect the bark from damage during subsequent bending.

If possible, try to wind two branches of the same thickness next to each other with one piece of wire, and the remaining branches with separate pieces of wire. Wrap all the branches that need shaping first, and then start bending them. When wrapping the whole tree, start with the trunk, then move on to the primary branches, and only then to the secondary ones. Use wire with a cross section of about 1/3 of the thickness of the wrapped branch. The wire should be thick enough to hold the branch in its new position.

In the following we will take a closer look at both wire laying methods. At the end of this chapter, you will find information on how to safely bend wired branches. Using a good tool makes this process much easier.

Wrap two bonsai branches at once

  • First select the pair of branches you want to wire. They should be the same thickness and located close to each other. Keep in mind that you must first secure the wire by making at least one turn around the trunk (preferably two turns) so that the wire does not move when the branches are subsequently bent.
  • Now cut a piece of wire to the required length to wrap both strands.
  • First wrap the wire around the trunk and then move on to wrapping the first branch. Wrap the branch with wire from its base to the very end before moving on to another branch. The wire should be wound around the branch at an angle of 45 degrees, then the branch can continue to grow in thickness, maintaining a given shape.
  • If you intend to bend the branch down, wind the wire around the trunk below the branch first. Conversely, the wire must first be wound on the section of the trunk above the branch, if it will be bent upwards.
  • After completing the wire wrapping of all matching pairs of strands, continue wrapping the remaining strands, each with a separate piece of wire.

Single branch wire

  • As in the case of two branches with one piece of wire, first cut a piece of wire to the required length and wrap it around the trunk at least two turns at an angle of 45 degrees.
  • After that, proceed to wrapping the branch.
  • If several pieces of wire are wound around the same part of the trunk or branch, try to do this carefully, winding them side by side parallel to each other.

Bending wired branches

After wrapping the whole tree with wire, you can start bending the branches and change their position. Holding the base and tip of the branch with both hands, bend the branch by resting your thumbs on the fold point. Thus, by distributing the force along the entire length of the branch, you will reduce the risk of it splitting. When the branch is in the right position, leave it alone, as bending in the same place multiple times will most likely damage it. Try to slightly bend the straight sections of the branches so that they look more natural.

Aftercare

Place the tree in the shade and fertilize as usual. Carefully inspect the tree during the growth period and promptly remove the wire before it cuts into the bark. Do not attempt to unwind the wire as this may damage the bark. Instead, it is better to cut the wire with special wire cutters at the place of each of its turns, after which it will be much easier to remove.

House of Beads. Wire tree with beads

Miniature trees or bonsai came into our lives from the East and quickly gained popularity. This explains the high cost of miniature artificial trees in the retail chain. It is not difficult to make wood from beads. Master class will tell you how to do this. Such products are recommended to be installed where a person strives for well-being, harmony, prosperity. A small tree can stimulate mood, give optimism and confidence.

Step-by-step tutorial

Such products are not just a decorative item in the interior. They are able to accumulate the energy of the sun, fire, water and direct them in the right direction. The curved trunk symbolizes greeting. A guest who finds himself in a room where there is a bonsai will instantly forget about the negativity with which he could appear on the threshold of this house.

It is also a symbol of prosperity, therefore such crafts are called a money tree. To make it, you need to prepare:

It is not necessary to have beading experience. Trees bonsai are made quite simply and do not require specific skills.

1. Cut the wire into pieces about 40 centimeters long.

2. Put a bead in the middle and twist it carefully. Make a few turns. If small beads are used, you can use three beads at a time, as in the example in the photo. Make the turns carefully, observing symmetry.

3. You will need 100-120 such improvised branches.

4. No pattern for the bead tree is needed. Everything is quite improvised. It is not necessary to adhere to the proposed option. Next, add a few more beads on the wire to each branch. A branch with more beads looks more realistic.

5. Now connect the three prepared branches by twisting with pliers.

6. Using the suggested step-by-step instructions, assemble three large branches. Try to keep them the same size.

7. Using pliers, connect three branches to form the trunk of the future tree.

8. Form a stem 3-4 cm long. Divide the wire into three equal pieces. Next you have to do the roots.

9. Divide each marked part into two separate groups and twist them. Three, four turns will be enough.

10. Divide each hotel group into three parts again. Make three turns and divide again. Do this until you reach the edge of the wire. Thus, it turns out to make powerful, branched roots.

11. Cut off the excess with wire cutters. The tree can now be placed in a jar and secured with gravel, sea pebbles.

But the bonsai will look more original on a large cobblestone or in a decorative planter. It is “planted” on a stone with a glue gun.

In order to fix a tree in a pot, it is necessary to insert it inside and fill it with a solution of gypsum, alabaster. Decorate the top with artificial moss or decorative pebbles. The barrel, to make it look more realistic, is wrapped with brown tape and varnished.

3 ideas for developing creativity

Using the technique proposed in the master class, you can make a variety of trees. This is a significant gift for a loved one on the occasion of a celebration or just a source of additional income. These items are in high demand and sell out quickly.

1. Classic Yin-Yang birch. For the manufacture of white and black beads were used. Instead of a bead, eight beads of a single color are strung on each wire. Make two separate trees. They are fixed on the basis, the branches in the crown area are intertwined with each other. It is fixed in a container with a solution of alabaster. The top of the "primer" is painted with acrylics after the mortar has set.

2. From black pearls. Bright pearls with iridescent overflow will make the tree not only beautiful, but also rich enough. Decor in the form of bullfinches was purchased separately.


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