Tree staking new trees is a highly controversial practice, as landscapers disagree on whether or not it is necessary. The facts are clear in the world of professional arborists, however. Not all trees need staking.
Part of the problem is nursery practices of feeding and pushing trees to grow faster to sell. What you end up with is a tall skinny tree that can’t stand up by itself. Those trees will need staking.
However, if you look for trees that are not tall and skinny, and can stand up by themselves, you are much better off. The reasons tree staking is a problem, is tying a tree securely to posts means it can’t sway at all in the wind. Without wind resistance making the tree sway back and forth, you end up with a trunk that can’t support the tree. Think about putting a cast on your leg and leaving it on for years. Obviously, your leg will atrophy, which is what happens to tree trunks that can’t sway. Wind is what makes trees grow sturdy trunks, and along with sturdy trunks is a sturdy root system. A sturdy root system means your tree is less likely to blow over, and it also means a happier, healthier tree that will mature to its full splender.
Another problem with staking is they are left on too long. If you have to stake a tree because you can’t find one that isn’t tall and skinny, never leave on for more than a year. Always check to make sure the tree is not being girdled; another problem with using ties to secure the tree to posts.
Buy trees that can stand up by themselves
This tree looks top heavy, but it was able to stand up without being staked. Staking trees inhibits root growth and prevents a strong trunk taper. Ideally, the tree trunk should flare at the bottom. This flare develops when trees are allowed to sway in the wind. Securely tying trees to stakes inhibits proper sway.
Wound from tree tie
Ties being left on trees when they were staked eventually grow into the bark of the tree. This will either cause death of the branch, or the whole tree. In this case the top of the tree died, leaving a lopsided and ugly tree left behind. Never leave ties on for more than one year.
Tree topping is ugly and will kill the tree
If your tree has to be staked because it will not stand up by itself, start checking after 6 months to see if it has grown enough roots to stand up alone. If after one year it still cannot stand up alone, check your watering schedule. Shallowly watered trees will not develop stout root systems.