Reality: Bracing trees tightly is not necessary.

Many new trees will do just fine on their own without strong and tightly held bracing. In fact, the movement will help new trees develop strong root systems and more solid trunk girth. New trees in new areas and open areas may require staking early in their lives. This will prevent leaning as the tree is being established.

Though new trees in protected areas may not need help from bracing, sometimes it is beneficial. For example, a new tree on a slope is exposed to very strong winds and will require temporary stabilization for proper growth. If staking is done correctly after the tree is transplanted it can protect it from wind.

Wind damage is the usual culprit that can bend or blow a tree over and break its trunk. Also new trees in sandy soil, as well as bare root trees, typically need staking. A tree that does not stand well on its own or begins to lean after planting will need proper staking. Top-heavy trees with dense leaves at the crown and those trees that are exposed to dense traffic next to a sidewalk will also need proper staking.

When in doubt only stake if you really need to and for a full growth season to grow sturdy roots. So, if the tree was planted in the spring you may be able to remove the stakes by the fall. Wind movement will actually develop strong root structure for the tree. Staking a tree longer can lead to poor trunk growth and smaller diameter to the tree trunk.

Tie the tree to each stake with flat tree-staking straps and make sure the straps are taut but not so tight that it damages the tree. You want the tree to sway in the wind a bit to encourage strong root development. Then remember to only stake for one growing season or until the root system has had the chance to spread out and set in.

For best results when planting trees and palms consult the certified arborists at GreenEdge.

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