In a perfect world, all trees grow big and straight. However, thanks to Mother Nature, this does not always happen. As a result, many people wonder if their leaning tree can be straightened and saved. Whether damaged from a storm, wind, or excessive snowfall, the good news is that in many cases a leaning tree can be saved, provided the damage is not extensive and the proper techniques are used during the straightening process.
To Stake or Not to Stake?
In many of these situations, people assume the best thing to do is stake the tree. However, this is not always the best option, especially if the tree is large. While in most situations an arborist will advise against staking a tree, there are situations where staking can prove helpful. For example, a sapling with a very small root ball is a prime candidate for staking, since it cannot yet support its rapid growth. Also, a tree that is thin-stemmed and continues to bend under its own weight should be staked, as should trees that are located on sites that are very windy.
The Basics of Staking
If you decide the only way to save a tree from continuing to lean is to use a stake, there are several things to take into consideration. To begin with, the stake should be left in place for only one growing season. Also, a stake should be at least five feet long and be made from metal or very sturdy wood, which will allow it to help maintain the tree in a upward position. In areas that are very windy or prone to rain that will leave the ground wet, it may be best to place more than one stake on a tree in order to ensure it can be properly straightened.
How to Save an Uprooted Tree
In many cases where a tree is leaning, it is the result of being uprooted during a storm. When this happens, many people automatically assume all is lost. However, it’s still very possible to save these leaning trees, provided the root system is still relatively intact. To have the best results in saving these trees, at least one-third to one-half of the root system should still be in place in the ground. This will ensure the tree still has a chance to get the necessary nutrients needed to help it grow, and it should also be noted that the exposed roots must be undamaged and undisturbed. To start with, remove as much soil as possible from under the roots, then gently attempt to straighten the tree. Once this is done, place a stake near the tree and anchor it with two guy wires located about 12 feet from the trunk.
A Hopeless Situation
While in most cases a leaning tree can be saved, there are times when there is no hope and the tree should be removed. In most cases, these situations involved a mature tree that is lying flat on the ground with its roots still firmly in the ground. If you have this in your yard, don’t bother with staking.
So while saving a leaning tree may involve a fair amount of work, the good news is that with a little effort and knowledge, you just might be able to save your tree.
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