Whether or not a tree requires support at the time of planting is determined by its size and exposure to wind. As a rule of thumb it is considered that if a pit has been excavated for the tree roots, then the tree will need support via staking or guying. Support is not usually deemed necessary for whips and stock of less than 1m, where the plant is inserted into a notch or slot.
It is now widely accepted that staking right into the crown of the tree will only serve to create a fulcrum or leverage point in a vulnerable part of the plant, but the single-staking method remains popular using a stake that extends to about one-third of the tree’s height. Single-staking is normally used for bare-root trees, the stake being placed in the pit before planting and positioned on the side subject to prevailing winds.
Double- or triple-staking is commonly used for root-balled and container-grown trees because the stakes can straddle the root ball. In this case, stakes are positioned around the root ball once it has been lowered into the pit. Although more expensive, underground guying is gaining popularity because it removes unsightly stakes, eliminates trip hazards and gives the stem freedom to move.
Note The following table details stakes, ties and guying products offered by some of the major UK suppliers. Also included are details of bamboo canes for use with shelters or for supporting herbaceous and shrubby material.