Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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Should you stake trees for the winter? - Thomas DeHaas

The Fall winds are blowing, and Winter is just around the corner. The question arises on whether a gardener should stake their trees for winter? There are several things to consider.

 

Newly planted trees are good candidates for staking.

 

Recently, we moved from Lake County, Ohio to Ottawa County, Ohio. I installed several new trees in my landscape and quickly realized a whole new set of challenges regarding wind and staking.

 

Our present location in Ottawa County is much flatter, with open expanses of farmland, and in close proximity to Lake Erie. It is not uncommon to have sustained 40-50 mile per hour winds with gusts approaching 70 MPH.

  

Lake County featured elevation changes, greater tree canopy, a high concentration of houses, and in general, less intense winds.

  

So, let’s get to the question: “Should I stake my trees?”

  

Newly planted trees can benefit from staking.

  

Typically, trees can be purchased in the fall 3 different ways; Container, Balled and Burlap, and bare root.

 

Container grown trees are typically grow in a soilless media and develop a fairly substantial root system within the container. This root mass can help stabilize the tree and may require less support from staking. But it is always a good idea to consider some support for a newly planted tree.

 

The second way trees are sold is Balled and Burlap. The tree is planted and grown in a field, and when harvested, has a root ball of soil and roots, typically 11 to 12 inches per one inch caliper of the tree. Similar to container grown trees, B and B trees, because of the root ball, tend to endure higher wind pressure, but still benefit from staking.

 

The third type of tree to be transplanted is Bare Root. This transplant has no soil around the roots, just the fibrous root system. Bare Root trees are typically less expensive but require more care in planting, watering, and staking. Some bare root transplants are short and branched low to the ground like this Chincapin Oak and White Pine.

 

Trees that are less than 3 feet as bare root may not need to be staked. Several examples include the Japanese Perrotia, Paperbark Maple, or Norway Spruce.

 

Taller deciduous trees 3-5 feet will need at least a single bamboo stake for support.

 

Larger tress over 5 feet will definitely need staking either a single diagonal stake, or 2 stakes with guy wires attached to a piece of rubber tubing to prevent gouging or damage to the tree trunk tissue.

 

Another technique is 2 vertical stakes with wires on both sides. A third method is the use of tree bands with stakes as shown on this White Oak.

 

So, what happens when you don’t stake newly planted trees? They can take on this bending, wind-blown look as in this Norway Maple.

  

Newly planted trees can benefit from staking. Established trees are typically ok unless they are uprooted by wind and rain. So, get out there and stake before the snow flies!


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