Bob Ross once said “trees don’t grow even, they don’t grow straight. Just however it makes them happy.” Unfortunately for many gardeners and homeowners, a crooked tree won’t make them particularly happy.
A crooked tree can be a danger to you, your property, and to the tree itself. Things like high winds, heavy wet snow, and ice storms can do a lot of damage and even potentially kill your tree! Growing a straight, even tree really is the best for you and the tree alike. Let’s explore some of the ways to help your trees grow tall and healthy.
Know when to stake your tree
A healthy, young tree doesn’t need to be staked up in order to grow straight. Many arborists encourage tree planters not to stake their trees. But if the root ball of a tree is small relative to its size, you may want to stake it to hold it up while it takes root! This will help prevent the tree from leaning or, even worse, falling over.
How do you properly stake a tree?
If you do stake your tree to help it stay put, only stake it for one growing season. The following year, the stakes should be removed. Stakes should be at least five feet long. Always use stakes made out of strong wood or metal. If your stake is too weak to stay up for a growing season, it could do more harm than good.
Be sure not to drive your stakes into the ground too close to the base of the tree. Doing so could damage the roots. Instead, hammer your stakes near the edge of the planting hole. Use rope or wire to attach the trunk of the tree to the stakes.
How do you straighten a crooked tree?
It’s definitely tragic when your newly planted tree finds itself falling over. Sadly, a tree can’t always be saved if it’s been uprooted. The tree must still have at least half of its root system in the ground. The roots that are exposed cannot be too damaged.
The uprooted portion of the roots of the tree will need to be placed back at ground level. Remove as much soil from around the uprooted portion of the tree as you can. Then gently lift and straighten the tree back out. Pack the soil back in and use wires and stakes to anchor the tree in place while it recovers and regrows its root system.
If you have a mature tree that has completely fallen over and is laying on the ground, it simply won’t survive. It would be best, and safest, to have the tree removed and plant a new one in its place.