There are lots of ways to stake a tree. When I first started I didn't realize how much it mattered, but as we shall see it's important to stake your fruit, citrus and shade trees the right way.
One time the whole top of a young tree I had just put into the ground, broke off! The whole top--leave, branches, and all just snapped under our strong winds.
It was a citrus tree, an orange of some kind. It was smaller than the four other citrus trees I planted, and it needed more staking than the other four trees I planted. Which we will learn about as we jump in and learn the best way you can stake your trees.
When your done staking your tree you might also want to check out the best way to shade your tree's trunk from the sun without using paint (plus it's easy and cheap).
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page may be affiliate links, meaning I may get a small commission if you make a purchase. Read the full disclosure here.
There are a couple factors you need to consider to best know how to stake your tree. These are:
Smaller citrus always needs to be staked when you start. I like to use three stakes with them because of my past experience with the top breaking off of my orange tree.
For other trees, check and see if that kind requires staking. When in doubt, it never hurts to stake it. ;)
What are the winds like in your area? This is also a good thing to take into account when deciding to stake your trees or not. Our area is very open and the wind can be very intense. Because of this, I'll often stake trees that might not have otherwise needed it. I stake anything that comes in a 5-gallon pot or smaller (for example: citrus, figs and pomegranates).
When staking a tree three stakes is ideal. For trees that are really little, three stakes is a must.
The often seen way of staking trees is with one stake right by the trunk of the tree. This is never okay. The tree needs to grow there and you don't want to hinder that by placing a stake right there. Remember this: one-stake tree planting is a no-no.
Place the three stakes evenly around the edge of the tree's circle as seen in the photo above and below.
Grab some string or old hay twine, along with a pocket knife.
You are going to tie the tree to the stakes, but you need to be careful how you do this. Mess this part up and your could wind up killing the tree.
When you tie the tree to the stakes you want to keep both the stake and tree trunk in one loop. Another way to say that would be: wrap the string around the tree and one stake before tying.
Don't wrap and tie string right around the trunk.
Getting the tension right is the trickiest part. It's not that hard, you just have to be careful. If you tighten it too much you can cut off the circulation of the tree and kill it. If it's too loose, then the tree could break in a wind storm.
If it was canning I'd say "finger tight." ;) Basically you want it tight enough so the tree won't blow over on a windy day, but you also want to be able to rock the tree back and forth a little so you know it's not too tight and choking the tree.
I usually have two strings for each stake, one at the bottom and one towards the top.
Tip: the string should be snug enough to stay (vertically) where you place it on the stake. Use the pictures to understand better. :)
Continue adjusting until everything is held together in just right--not too tight, or too loose.
Caution: Check often through out the year and adjust the twine as the tree grows. If you are not careful the tree can grow around the string and get too tight--if you let it go too long it could kill the tree. Checking on it every now and then should help prevent that.
That's it! You've staked your tree and it's ready to hold up to wind until it grows big enough to support its self.
If you planted a citrus or other tree that needs shade on its trunk for the first few years, check this post out to learn how to shade your tree with no chemicals--it's super easy!