KC Gardens

How to stake a new tree?


I just bought a 9 foot sugar maple with a fairly large canopy and want to plant it this weekend. I know the root ball needs to be stabilized for a year until the young tree’s roots are establish properly. I’ve watched the Kansas Healthy Communities video from K-State on how to stake a tree http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fFNftCOG28 but I’m a little uncertain about which direction to point the stake. My tree will go on the south side of our lawn. Since I’m planting in late summer/fall, do I need to worry about winter prevailing winds from the north? Or, do I need to stake against the southern prevailing winds of spring and summer?

Also, the tree is grafted and the cultivar top-half is not growing completely straight in the container. Do I set the tree in the ground so that it is straight? Or do I lean it towards the prevailing wind to straighten it? If it should lean, which direction? North or south? (Note: the tree will be somewhat sheltered from north winds by our house and other neighbors’ houses.) Long questions, but I want to make sure I do it right for the long-term health of my tree. Thanks for your help. - TX KS GRL -


  1. 7 months, 2 weeks ago

    The stake should be on the west side of the tree. Our prevailing winds are generally from the SW or NW. The tree should move away from the stake, thus the west side is best. Be sure to stake low on the tree, and not too tight. You actually want the tree to move, as this is how it becomes strong. Here is the link to the KSU bulletin on staking trees: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/MF1120.PDF

    You should place the tree in the planting hole so that it is upright. Sun and wind patterns, plus competition for light from other trees may affect the tree over time. But if it is “full sun” it will naturally grow straight up in search of the sun. Here is the link to the KSU bulletin on planting trees, which will give you more illustrations on how to place the tree: http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/mf402.pdf.

    Hope this health, and thanks for being concerned about the long-term health of your new tree.

    Carole Johnson County Extension Master Gardener

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