Removing Tree Stakes | Determining When it is Safe to Remove Tree Stakes

Removing Tree Stakes

You may be wondering how to determine the best time for removing tree stakes. If you have recently planted trees in your yard, chances are you have installed tree stakes to support your seedlings or young trees. Most newly planted trees require tree stakes and guy wires to keep them healthy and upright until they take hold in their new home. This is especially true in certain planting conditions. These scenarios include: a tree that has a small root ball relative to its overall size, trees that are planted in windy climates, and young trees that may have heavy foliage.

Determining the Best Time for Removing Tree Stakes

The question often asked is; when is the best time for removing tree stakes that are supporting my newly planted trees? While the best answer may vary depending on soil conditions and other factors, a good rule of thumb is to leave the tree stakes in place for about one year. This will allow ample time for the tree to go through a full growing season. This extended period permits the soil around the root ball to settle. It also offers the tree plenty of time to extend its roots and to get a good hold on the surrounding soil.

Conversely; leaving tree stake in place too long can be a detriment to the development of the tree. Once the roots are well established, it is important to allow the tree to swing freely in the breeze. This will encourage a natural strengthening of the tree trunk so it can support the weight of the branches as they begin grow and spread out.

Four Simple Steps for Removing Tree Stakes

Step 1: Use a measuring tape to determine the diameter of the tree trunk and the overall height of the tree. A good rule of thumb is if the tree is at least 6 feet tall and the diameter of the trunk is 1” or more, removing the tree stakes is safe. Of course, this varies somewhat based on the various species.

Step 2: Carefully remove the guy wires or twine that is wrapped around the tree. Caution must be taken to prevent damage to the tree bark.

Step 3: Loosen the stakes by hitting the side of the stake with a mallet, striking the stake near ground level. Using a back and forth motion, the stake should be free enough to pull upwards.

Step 4: Be sure to backfill the stake hole with loose soil.

Quick Tips

A word of caution: be sure to leave plenty of slack in the guy wires to allow for upward growth of the tree. It is important to leave the guy wires loose around the trunk and to install a cover over the wires to protect the tree bark.

Protect the Root Ball: be careful not to drive the stakes through the root ball. You may cause unseen damage to the tree which can be harmful.

To learn more about the best time for removing tree stakes, and how to safely cover them, get in touch with the Stake Safe Team.