Helping Young Trees Survive After Irene

Small trees, especially newly planted ones, that are now leaning or out of the ground due to the storm need to be staked now.   Trees with roots out of the ground need immediate attention.  If you can’t stake these trees right away, try to keep the exposed roots from drying out.

This site has a good diagram and directions on how to properly stake a tree.

  • When righting the tree, gently pack the soil back around the base of the tree and water well to settle the soil,   just as you would when planting a tree.
  • Do not stake the tree so tightly that it cannot move.  The goal here is to keep the root ball from moving while allowing the tree to sway in the breeze.  The ties on the tree should allow for some movement (a couple of inches) back and forth. This movement will make the trunk stronger.  The tree that is tightly staked and does not move is likely to come down during the next storm after the stakes are removed.
  • Allowing the top third or more to sway in the breeze will also help strengthen the trunk, so place the ties at about 2/3 height of the tree or lower.
  • Never use wire around the tree.  Even string or rope can sometimes damage the tree.  Soft, wide, flexible ties are best – nylon hose, old bicycle tire inner tubes, fabric strips, old garden hose or similar items can be used.
  • Trees that are still firmly in the ground but have a lean can the righted using just one stake.
  • Remove the stakes after one year at the most.  Put this on your calendar!

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