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Staking Trees


Staking Trees 

By Linda Lewis Griffith   UCCE Master Gardener


What's the best way to stake a tree?   Dave R.  Atascadaero


Staking trees is a controversial topic. 

Current research encourages home gardeners to avoid staking new trees whenever possible.  Trunk movement signals the lower trunk and roots to produce growth and results in stronger trees. 

On the other hand, staked trees are frequently damaged by rubbing and girdling. Vertical growth and root development are slowed.  Trunks may become stressed at the point of stake attachment and be more susceptible to breaking.       

Trees that can stand by themselves or don't need protection from excessive wind do not need to be staked.  Most conifers, trees with upright growth habits and bare-root trees do not need additional staking. 

Supportive staking may be required if a tree is not strong enough to stand upright or to return to an upright position after being deflected.  Staking should be done at the time of planting. 

            To properly stake a tree, follow these steps:

1)    Place two stakes in the ground outside of the root ball on opposite sides of the tree, allowing the prevailing wind to blow through the stakes.  Remove the nursery stake.

2)    Determine the height of the support tie by putting two fingers on the trunk 3 feet about the ground.  Move fingers upward until the tree is supported enough to stand upright.  Place ties 6 inches apart at this point.

3)    Select flexible, elastic ties, such as rubber tubing, for straps. Wrap them loosely around the trunk, securing them firmly to the posts and ensuring the trunk doesn't rub against the stakes.   

4)    Cut wooden stakes off 2-3 inches above the ties to avoid injuring lateral branches.  Injured branches can become infested by insects or infected with pathogens. 

5)    Regularly check the ties for girdling or restriction of the trunk.  Make sure stakes are still upright and not damaging the trunk or branches. 

6)    Remove the stakes and ties when the tree is able to stand upright on its own, in about one year.

For more information on staking trees, visit these websites:

UCANR Publication 8046

UC IPM Staking

UMass.edu Staking Trees

Posted on Monday, November 20, 2017 at 1:22 PM
  • Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
  • Editor: Noni Todd

Wild Flowers and Winter Cover Crops?

Advice for the Home Gardener from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County

Client: Is it possible to plant a nitrogen-fixing winter cover crop simultaneously with wildflower seeds…..or will they just compete for space? Thanks for your answer.

MGCC Help Desk Response: Thank you for contacting the UC Master Gardener Program with your question about planting a nitrogen-fixing winter cover crop together with wildflower seeds.

Kale - all edible including flowers
photo: Summertomato.com
Wildflowers are always enjoyable, but I am not sure they will mix well with a cover crop. I can think of two problems that you may encounter if you try to mix them in the same place at the same time. One, that you mentioned, is that they could choke each other out. The other is a matter of timing. Winter cover crops are typically chopped down and dug in in late winter or early spring, at the time that the wildflowers would be coming up. If you are planting fava beans as your cover crop, you may be able to cut the fava beans down while avoiding the wildflowers. However, if you are using clover or other leafy plant as a cover crop, it would be difficult to cut down the cover crop without damaging or destroying the wildflowers.

There are some alternatives, but they may not be optimum for what you want to achieve. One is to plant the cover crop first and then the wildflower seeds after the cover crop has been dug in. The problem there is that may lead you to digging in the cover crop too early, or more likely, planting the wildflower seeds too late. Wildflowers seeds can be sown in early spring, but October to January is generally the best time to sow wildflower seeds. Otherwise, I am afraid that you will need to decide between planting a cover crop or wildflowers. If you are planning to turn the area into a wildflower garden, and are planting California native wildflowers, you could skip the cover crop since native wildflowers generally do not need a lot of nitrogen. On the other hand, if you are planning on turning the area into a vegetable garden, I would recommend planting the cover crop seeds and perhaps planting the wildflowers in another area of the yard.

Another option you could consider would be getting a cover crop mixture that would provide different flowers. You might find these mixtures at your local nursery as well as on-line.

You can find some basic information from UC on growing cover crops at: http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/filelibrary/5842/25997.pdf
Note that this is a bit out-of-date in its comment about cover crop seeds being hard to find; that is no longer true. It also mentions rototilling. You can just cut the plants down and dig them in.

Here is also some information from the California Native Plant Society on planting wildflower seeds: https://www.cnpsmarin.org/native-plants/how-to/item/185-marin-cnps-sowing-wildflower-seeds

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please let us know if you have further questions.

Good luck with your winter garden!

Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (ECS)

Note: The  UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions.  Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA  94523. We can also be reached via telephone:  (925)646-6586, email: ccmg@ucanr.edu, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog  (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/)


Posted on Monday, November 20, 2017 at 12:13 AM

The World of Praying Mantids: A Question Posed, A Question Answered

Mating pair of Stagmomantis limbata, a common mantis in Vacaville, Calif. The male did not lose his head. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Last summer you may have happened upon praying mantids mating. Hopefully, the male didn't lose his head. Which begs a...

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 4:40 PM

Matan Shelomi: Each Answer to a Question Creates New Questions

World traveler and scientist Matan Shelomi, wearing a Bohart Museum of Entomology shirt at  at the Reichstag in Berlin.

Think about this: You don't know until you try. You miss every opportunity you do not take. Each answer to a question...

Posted on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Bohart Museum Open House: From Wasps to Nematodes to Flies to Pop-Up Cards

Lauren Camp, diagnostic parasitologist at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, will display nematode specimens at the Bohart open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Want to learn about such parasitoids as nematodes, jewel wasps, small-headed flies and tachinid flies? Of course you...

Posted on Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 5:01 PM

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