Cuttings: Trees at stake

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The Independent Online
MODERN thinking on the staking of trees suggests the stake should not be so tall as to stop entirely the movement of the tree. The theory - and it works - is that the movement of the crown is transmitted to the roots and encourages them to develop more quickly, in order to provide adequate support. A stake about knee-high works perfectly on slender, feathered trees up to 6ft or 7ft tall. They learn to fend for themselves very quickly.

But if a nursery has grown a mop-headed half-standard tree - a scarlet thorn, perhaps, or a crab apple - it is going to catch a lot of wind at the top. Too low a stake will allow it to lash around cruelly. Heavy-headed young trees are better given the old-fashioned taller stake, coming almost to the top of the cleared stem.

Recently I saw a tall group of young alders nicely established on 6ft stakes. They would have made good, but for an expert who decided the stakes were too tall. Fashionable, knee-high stakes were immediately introduced and in the next decent wind every tree blew down.