It is important to properly stake newly planted trees, especially in areas that are not protected from the wind. The goal of staking a tree is not immobilization, contrary to popular belief. The goal is to stabilize the root ball and allow for the trunk of the tree to still move. The movement of the upper trunk in the wind actually strengthens the tree, similar to when we lift weights to build muscle. Staking trees keeps the roots in place so that the tree does not tip over or start to lean and allows the roots a good chance to establish.
How to Stake:
1) Choose the right location: The stake should be placed on the west side of the tree so that the wind will not blow the trunk of the tree into the stake. Point the tip of the stake toward the North or North East at a 45 degree angle.
2) Place the stake: There is an easy way to drive stakes into the ground without using much force. Turn a garden hose on to a trickle, and make a pool of water where the stake will enter. Simply push in the stake, pull it back out and let the hole fill back up with water. Replace the stake in the hole, push in and take it back out about six to ten more times, each time allowing the hole to fill back up with water. The stake will slide in easily and be very sturdy when the water drains out. (I am told that this is how many electricians install ground rods.)
3) Tie the tree: Attach the tree to the stake at 18-24 inches high using a rubber tie. There are several different products on the market that are specifically made for trees. The important things to remember when attaching any rubber tie is to leave a layer of rubber between the stake and the tree to prevent the trunk from rubbing on the stake. Make the rubber tie snug so that the rubber does not also rub on the tree and cause bark damage.
4) Remove the stake after 1 season: Remembering to remove the stake is an important step. After a season, the tree trunk is bigger and the rubber around the trunk will begin to cause problems.
Go Forth and Plant!