When to Remove Stakes from a Tree

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Last fall I hired a landscaper to plant a new tree in my yard and he staked it. when should I remove the stakes?

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Answer: Staking freshly planted trees is a task often performed to supply adequate support until the trees have been properly established, particularly in a spot buffeted by winds. Staking a tree gives the root system a chance to establish itself in the soil and thereby provide the tree with a strong anchor. The stakes are not a permanent fixture, though, and should eventually be removed to the benefit of the tree.

There really isn’t a set answer to when you should remove tree stakes. In general, the tree shouldn’t need the support for more than six months to a year—or after one growing season. In fact, stakes left too long can actually hinder development—trees need to sway freely in the wind in order to grow stronger trunks.

Although your tree should do fine on its own after one growing season, exact timing will vary depending on the species of tree—as some may develop quicker than others. If you’re in doubt about removing the stakes after six months or so, call your landscaper and ask for his or her input with respect to the site and the tree’s species.

For a complete guide to planting and caring for trees, shrubs and other garden plants, as well as the soil that supports them, we recommend The New Gardener's Handbook by Daryl Beyers.

Image credit: Public domain/Bruce Dupree/Alabama Extension