It’s hard to imagine that as society becomes more aware and proactive about saving our environment, we could be damaging the trees that we are working so hard to save. With the influx of information that we have it can be difficult to determine where we can help. One of the easiest ways to get involved is to properly maintain what you already have.
In this series, we are going to cover several areas where people think that they are improving/helping their trees but may be doing more harm than good. These areas are mulching, watering, tree supports, and pruning.
We will have an in depth look at these common practices and discover whether they are beneficial and what we should be doing.
Tree Supports – Watching You Fail
When determining whether to stake a newly plated tree or not there are many different points of view and many arguments for and against both. Nearly 2000 years ago the philosopher Seneca said “No tree becomes rooted and sturdy unless many a wind assails it. For by its very tossing it tightens its grip and plants its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those that have grown in a sunny valley”. Seneca then went on to use this analogy on the strength of the human spirit.
Still, this principle is the main argument from those who suggest that staking a tree is not an acceptable practice. The argument is that by staking a tree we are weakening it and not allowing it to build strength on its own. Years of study has showed that properly staking a tree can be a useful practice and can help trees grow to be healthy and stable. Here is a look at some of the positives and negatives of staking trees.
If done right
- Provide a stable environment for a juvenile tree to develop roots
- Prevent high winds from toppling a tree
- Increase awareness that there is a newly planted tree
If done wrong
- If the ties are not removed at the right time this will strangle the tree
- If it’s too tight it may prevent the tree from building proper trunk taper. Which is necessary for structural growth
- If too loose it may slide on the trunk which will create
- Stakes should be outside the root zone so that it does not damage new or old roots
With all the potential problems that could rise it can be difficult to understand why we would recommend staking your newly planted trees. If staking is done properly it should be a part of all planting practices. The most important parts of staking your trees are; monitor tree growth, adjust stakes when necessary, stake placement, remove stakes when necessary.
The goal is to still allow a young tree to build up a resiliency to winds and other forces that are put on it. Stakes play a vital role in helping make sure that the property owner gets good value and that the trees are prepped for long term success.
Although staking is a major contributor to trees being girdled it is not the only explanation. In many cases people are girdling their trees and don’t realize until it’s too late. Other than stakes some of the reasons people strangle trees are, swings, clotheslines, tying animals, or trying to close a split in a tree. Anytime something is wrapped around a part of the tree it has the potential of girdling the tree. This can be detrimental to the tree because when a tree is girdled it affects the trees ability to transfer nutrients from the roots to the crown.
In many cases it will completely stop the flow of nutrients and kill your tree. Even if a tree is able to overcome the stress of girdling it will have a weak spot where it was forced to grow around.
It is amazing to see how much awareness and effort is being put into planting and maintaining trees. It is just a shame to think that all the hard work may not yield the proper results. Be sure to consult an arborist when planning the tree work around your property. UTS tree care employs professional and educated arborists who want to care for your trees and inform you of their specific needs.