How To Stake a Tree Guide: Right Way for Staking and Guying Trees (Chart)

Woman looks at three trees after learning how to stake a tree and guying trees vs staking trees, as well as how to stake a leaning tree, bent trees, tree bending, where to find tree stakes and ties, and correctly staking fruit trees.

If you have trees in your home landscape (or want to add more), then you may need to learn how to stake a tree for the same reason a child may need training wheels on a bike.

In some circumstances, it takes time to learn how to steadily go in the right direction.

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Transplanting a young tree, clapping the dust and soil off of your hands, and walking away may not be enough to ensure it grows properly. Improperly planting a tree can kill it, cause destructive root overgrowth that damages nearby structures, cause trees to dangerously lean as they mature and grow, and many other things.

For these reasons and more, learning how to stake a tree and perform regular tree maintenance can mean the difference between healthy growth or damages.

With this user-friendly and comprehensive how to stake a tree guide, you will learn the right way for staking and guying trees with visual charts, and the differences between these terms.

This guide will also discuss why certain trees need to be staked and their benefits and drawbacks.

How To Stake a Tree (What Are Staking and Guying?)

Staking a tree is a technique where a stake or plastic-coated wires are loosely tied to the stem of a sapling to stabilize its vertical growth.

Transplanted young saplings and even mature older trees may need to be staked or guyed to properly ensure that they will grow vertically and develop their limbs, trunks, and roots properly during the first months or year of growing.

Graphics of staking vs guying showing how to stake and guy trees and lists the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Usually, most people learn how to stake a tree by staking or guying a young sapling.

A young sapling is a slender, skinny, and fragile young tree with a burgeoning root system and perhaps emerging wisps of branches and leaves. It is the equivalent of a toddler or small child in tree form in a more apt analogy.

They are usually transplanted onto residential or business properties after growing from a seed, seedling, or cutting in a plant nursery.

A transplanted tree or plant is in shock when it is moved from its original growth medium. It takes time for the sapling to grow properly, which is a task it may not be able to do on its own.

While it is best to transplant a young sapling if you can, doing so has its drawbacks. Young saplings are at the mercy of the weather and can easily tip over or start growing in a leaning direction instead of a vertical one.

Leaning saplings won’t be able to set and grow their roots properly.

Leaning saplings may develop an exposed root ball system or roots. And sometimes the root ball doesn’t grow enough and is underdeveloped because the tree is growing at a leaning angle.

There are many reasons why you need to learn about how to stake a tree if you plant a sapling.

The techniques are called staking and guying. And although the techniques are often interchangeably used, they are very different techniques.

To learn Money Tree care, you must appreciate that it prefers indirect sunlight and must not be overwatered.

Tree Staking

Tree staking has operational methods similar to trellising. Some plants grow out from the roots, like vines that sprawl from the ground, instead of vertical stems that become trunks over time.

So, a trellis is a vertical wooden stick or post or even repurposed fencing with holes that are tied to the vines to guide them upward as they grow.

It is not a perfect analogy but it is a similar technique looking for a similar outcome. When you stake a tree, you stake one, two, or even three wooden or metal posts or rods next to the sapling.

Closeup view of a tree on a sidewalk with two wooden stakes to straighten the leaning tree trunk.

(Image: Fructibus11)

Then, you connect a plastic, nylon, pantyhose, cloth strap, or burlap-covered wire or belting from the posts onto the fledgling stem of the tree. You can also connect the wires to the underside of the first branch limbs.

When learning how to stake a tree, especially a sapling, it is important not to affix the wires too tightly or above the bottommost branch limbs. You will stunt the first year of growth for the sapling.

Additionally, it is important that the portion of the wire touching the tree is covered by plastic, nylon, burlap, or durable foam so as not to cut into the tree. If not, it will cause damage and invite pest infestation and tree disease development.

The sapling must be trained to grow vertically, but if the stake wire connections are too taught then the stem and growing trunk will be underdeveloped. The tree must have some flexibility as it grows vertically to ensure its trunk grows strong and thick.

The stake wires can’t be too firmly attached to the sapling but they can’t be too loose either.

The stake can be as high as the sapling. The number of stakes required to keep the sapling stable and constantly vertical will depend on the local environment.

If the only problem is that the tree is in loose soil or keeps leaning over, then one stake may be enough.

If the sapling has been planted in an extremely windy area, then three stakes may need to be planted in a triangular configuration with the sapling in the middle to keep it stable and vertical.


Guying is a similar technique to staking but does not necessarily use tall wooden posts to connect wires to stakes. Technically, guying is the technique of stabilizing and guiding something with a cable, cord, wire, or rope.

In guying, the vertically stabilizing wires are tied above the first bottom-most branch limbs. Usually, wires or cloth bands are affixed to the tree and connected to stakes, or large metal nails that are driven into the ground to provide vertically stabilizing growth.

Guying is a vertical growth stabilizing technique that is usually reserved for medium-sized trees that are at least four inches in diameter and larger trees.

Guying a tree is aesthetically similar to pitching a tent. Some tents have poles or rods in the corners with a rope tied to the top of them outside of the tent.

The rope must be tied to a stake, a metal nail, that is then hammered and driven into the ground to keep the rope taught and the tent standing.

In guying, wire, rope, or a cloth band is connected to the tree and the end of the rope is connected to a metal stake that is hammered and driven into the ground. Two or three wires can be used in guying to vertically stabilize a tree.

The most noticeable differences between guying and staking are the placement and relative height of the anchoring medium.

In staking, the tree is connected to a post that is usually the same height as the tree. So, the tree is usually anchored to the middle or the top of the vertically stabilizing post.

When it comes to guying, there usually isn’t a tall post involved. Guying is a vertically stabilizing technique that is used on medium and larger-sized trees.

And the connective materials that are used in the vertical growth stabilization process differ as well. For example, you could just use wooden nails, or stakes, with small saplings, while metal stakes would probably be more appropriate for medium-sized and larger trees.

You can identify various types of trees by identifying their bark, leaves, colors, and other factors.

Staking New Trees: How To Stake a Tree

Like an inexperienced kid riding a bike with training wheels, young trees in certain soil conditions lean over and will grow in non-vertical directions unless they are staked or guyed for a year or so.

Improperly planting a young tree could cause you to incur catastrophic landscape aesthetic, environmental, and financial damages in the long term.

So, in the same way, that you need to learn how to perform maintenance on your home or car, you may have to learn how to stake a tree to stabilize its vertical growth for several months, usually a year.2

If you are uncertain of your tree maintenance skills, there is no shame in hiring professional and experienced landscapers and arborists. Still, learning how to stake a tree is not as difficult as it sounds.

And you probably have all of the required materials in your closet, garage, or tool shed right now.

How To Stake a Tree (And Guy One)

To start to learn how to stake a tree, you will need a sledgehammer or mallet, metal or wooden stakes (large nails), cloth bands or straps, ropes, cable, or thick wire, and protective sleeves to thread the cable, rope, or wire through.

How to stake a tree diagram showing the steps which includes positioning the stakes, driving the stakes into the ground, attaching tree to the stakes, monitoring and maintaining the stakes, and removing the stakes once appropriate.

Such protective sleeve materials could include a thin rubber inner tube, rubber hose, garden hose, plastic foam hosing, or materials you may find inside a tree stake kit.

You may also need a hand winch.

The stakes should have loops, hooks, or a flanged top that can be used for tying the rope.

#1. Hammer the Stakes Into the Ground

How many stakes you may require to learn how to stake a tree will depend on the size of the tree, the severity of the tree’s lean, and the severity of local wind and weather.

If you are dealing with a slender sapling, you may be able to just hammer in a wooden post the same height as the sapling next to it and then connect the cable or wire to it. As long as there is no windy or extreme weather locally, that should be enough.

If there is extreme weather, then you may want to use two or three posts.

Staked young trees planted in a row on a slope land.

(Image: Robin Stott14)

For saplings with thicker saplings or medium-sized trees, then the guying method may be more suitable.

Hammer the stakes into the ground near the sapling at a 45-degree angle pointed at the stem or trunk. The longer the stake, the better the vertical growth support it will provide.

The stakes should be driven into the ground to a depth of a foot or 18 inches.

Try to hammer the stakes a foot or two, and maybe three from the tree around the perimeter of it. You don’t want to drive stakes into one of the most important parts of a tree, the root system.

#2. Make Sure the Tree Is Standing Upright and Straight

You may need the help of another person to accomplish this task. Get a garden hose or bucket of water and wet the soil around the base of the tree.

Mildly soaking the soil will make it more pliable and you will be able to move and straighten the tree easier.

If the root ball is not giving and you are struggling to straighten the tree vertically, then you could use a hand winch with the tree and a stake anchor to slowly straighten it out.

Gently tamp down the soil area around the base of the tree with your hands or shoes to stabilize the ground.

#3. Use Cable, Ropes, or Wire To Connect the Tree to the Stakes

The wires, cables, rope, or straps that come into surface contact with the tree must be covered with some kind of protective sleeving. Bare rope, cable, wire, or straps cannot come into direct contact with the bark of the trunk.

It could damage the back, cut into the tree due to the taught pressure of the staking, or invite pests or disease.

How To Tie a Tree to a Stake

For a sapling, you can connect the wire or rope at the midway point of the stem. For larger saplings or medium-sized trees, you can connect the tree at the midway point or above the bottommost branch limbs.

A close-up view of the trunk of a young tree staked using wires.

(Image: Lenore Edman15)

Never make the wire or rope connected to the stake too taught. Even though the ropes should keep the tree vertically stabilized, there should also be a little slack.

How To Stake a Leaning Tree

Trees are living things that move toward sources of sunlight. Trees move when in shock, under or overwatered, and when they grow.

The growing tree must have some flexibility to move its stem and trunk to become denser and strong as it grows.

The wires or ropes should be connected to the stakes and placed on the tree in a way that it is gently pulling the tree in two or three directions to keep it vertical and upright as it grows. It can almost be considered a gentle, multi-directional tug-of-war setup.

Just remember to include some slack.

How Long To Stake a Tree

It may take a few weeks before the average kid needs to remove the training wheels from their bike, but you should wait at least a year before removing the stakes and wires, ropes, or cables.

When it comes to staking, the process could also take a season or several months which means that you need to know how long does it take for a tree to grow. You need to constantly check the tree and gauge the vertical growth progress yourself.

Don’t forget. If you don’t remove the stakes and wires, ropes, or cables, then the tree will be stunted as it grows and potentially become deformed.

You could kill the tree by leaving the stakes too long.

The stakes could also damage the growing root system under the tree.

How To Stake a Tree (The Benefits of Planting Trees on Your Property)

Now that you have learned how to stake a tree to stabilize its vertical growth and understand the differences between staking or guying trees, here are some benefits of planting trees on your property.

Some of these reasons for planting a tree on your property may be more persuasive than others. But after reading this, you will also better understand why you need to know how to stake a tree properly if the need arose.

Fight Accelerating Climate Change

Climate affects every living person and it will affect generations of humans for centuries to come if nothing is done about it. One horrific side effect of human-caused climate change is that it is steadily increasing the average global temperature of the planet.

On July 4, 2023, the hottest day on a global scale was recorded and the previous record from seven years prior had to be retired. The world’s average temperature rose to 17.18 degrees Celsius or about 62.92 degrees Fahrenheit.3

The previous record was 16.92 degrees Celsius, or about 62.46 degrees Fahrenheit.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but planet Earth could reach a tipping point, a Rubicon, or a point of irrevocable return relative to catastrophic weather if the planet’s average temperature raises anywhere between 1 to 2 degrees, Celsius or Fahrenheit.4 For context, the planet is over 1 degree hotter now than before the advent of the industrial revolution.

If the planet’s average global temperature hits 18 or 19 degrees Celsius, or 64.4 or 66.2 degrees Fahrenheit, then it will hit a tipping point. At this point, global ice caps will melt, coastal cities might flood, and destructive weather events and unbearably hot weather might become the taken-for-granted norm and not unusual, record-breaking outlier events.

Planting a tree on your property could help augment carb sequestration.5 Carbon sequestration is the natural process by which the planet absorbs and releases carbon.

The natural environment, like trees, soil, and the ocean, absorbs and releases carbon on natural timetables.

When human beings flood the atmosphere with more CO2, or carbon than the Earth can practically recycle, it irrevocably fuels climate change. You can help fight this oncoming environmental cataclysm by planting trees on your property.

Enhanced Property Values

Planting trees on your home property landscape will make your home aesthetically more pleasing to look at, but it will also significantly increase the value of your home.

Depending on your local real estate market conditions, the value of a new American home for sale was at least $487,000 in May 2023.6

If you plant a few trees around your home’s landscape, you could potentially increase the value of your home from anywhere between 3.5% to as much as 15%.7 Some real estate studies even suggest that planting several trees around your home could increase its overall value by as much as 19%.8

Eye level view of two young staked Juniperus trees inside a property.

(Image: F. D. Richards13)

Consider these potential tree-aesthetic-based home value profit augmentations: 3.5% of $487,000 is $17,045, 15% of $487,000 is $73,050, and 19% of $487,000 is $92,530.

Imagine increasing your home’s potential real estate market value by those margins. And all you have to do is strategically plant some trees around your house to enhance landscape aesthetics.

Create Natural Privacy Screens

It is said that good fences make good neighbors, but enhanced privacy should also be added to that saying. Even if you have a good fence on your property, most property boundary fences are not high enough to screen the second level of two-story homes.

Strategically placed trees on your property can add enhanced privacy screen protection to your home while also being aesthetically pleasing.

Reduce Ambient Heat in Your Home

Strategically plant several trees around your property’s landscape and you could significantly reduce the heat in your home and your air conditioning energy bill too.

The ambient air temperature in your home could be reduced by as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit at the minimum if you have a few trees shading your home.9 You can reduce your annual energy bill via less air conditioner use by as much as $250 if you strategically plant enough trees around your house to keep it cool during heat waves.10

So, now that you understand why it behooves you financially, environmentally, and aesthetically to plant several trees around your home, here is everything you must know about how to stake a tree.

Still, you need to first understand the process, what exactly is staking and guying?

Good Reasons for Staking a Tree

Owning a home requires you as the homeowner to learn as much as possible about home maintenance best practices.

Own a car? The best way to destroy a car, and make local mechanics rich, is to open the hood and drive it often without learning some basic maintenance techniques.

If you want to proudly own a picturesque home landscape populated with some trees, then you might have to plant young saplings or young trees yourself. Many new homeowners, especially those who plan to stay in their homes for decades, plant new young trees to symbolize their new homeowner beginnings and watch them grow as they live life in their homes.

Other homeowners plant trees on their personal properties because they simply like trees.

The point is that you need to perform routine maintenance on your trees, especially newly planted and fragile young trees, in the same manner, that you must do for your home or vehicle.

Unless you are an experienced arborist who knows where to find young saplings to transplant, it will cost you anywhere between $60 to $1,300 to plant a tree on your property.1 And that price estimate is per tree planted.

You could spend a lot more per planted tree depending on the tree species.

Planting a sapling, a small and slender tree, could cost you a few bucks and up to $40 usually. But if you plant a sapling or larger tree in the ground and walk away without noticing some aesthetic problems it may be presenting, then it could cost you more to fix it in the long run.

As you are learning the proper way how to stake a tree, you should know that most trees don’t need to be staked. As long as it is properly planted in nutrient-rich soil and has stable, non-leaning balance, and stays upright, then it probably does not need to be staked.

Eye level view of a vineyard with irrigation piping, staking, wire trellising and cover crop between the vines.

(Image: Helder Ribeiro12)

The trees that need staking are small saplings, recently transplanted, transplanted in a windy locale, planted in loose soil that can’t accommodate the root ball properly, slender top heavy young trees, or if it is a sapling located near heavy foot traffic with the potential for being knocked over.

Want to know how to tell how old a tree is? You could cut it down and count the rings or measure its diameter.

The Drawbacks of Learning How To Stake a Tree

You must ensure that you have installed the stakes properly. If the connecting wires or rope is too taught, it can act like a garrote and strangle the tree. Or, the rope or wire could cut through the tree as it grows.

If the staking system is too taught and there is a windy storm then the tree could even break and separate from its root ball.

Most times the best way to plant a tree is to get a young sapling instead of transplanting a large tree, which is costly.

Just make sure you learn how to stake a tree properly so that it will grow straight and upright and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Stake a Tree

Could Tree Staking Cause Bending Tree or Tree Bending Issues?

This could happen if the wires or rope connected to the tree are too taught.

What Is the Best Method To Prevent Bent Trees?

Allow enough slack in the rope or wire to prevent warping growth or bent tree problems.

What Are the Best Kinds of Tree Stakes, Wood or Metal?

Wood tree stakes are best for young slender saplings that need a lot of time to grow while metal stakes best are for larger trees.

Where Can a Tree Stake Kit Be Purchased?

You can get a tree stake kit in a hardware, camping store, or online store.

How Tightly Connected Should Tree Stakes and Ties Be Connected to a Tree?

Make sure to allow for enough slack when learning how to stake a tree. If the ties are too tight, then the tree can be damaged, stunted, or killed.

Is Staking Fruit Trees Possible?

Yes. It should be safe as long as the connecting ties are not too taught.

What Is a Tree Stem?

A stem is another word for the trunk. Saplings and thin young trees usually have stems while larger and mature trees with wide diameters have trunks.

Why Are Tree Stake Straps a Better Option?

Tree stake straps are usually flat like a belt and make flat surface contact with the tree, unlike a wire, cord, or rope. As long as its connection to the stake is not too tight, it is less likely to damage the tree than the other options.

How Hard Is It Anchoring Trees?

You may need the help of another person to get the job done. When in doubt, call an arborist or landscaper.

Are Metal Stakes for Trees the Best Option?

They are the best choice for medium-sized and larger trees.

What Is the Best Method For Staking Trees in Windy Areas?

Use at least three stakes.

Which Is Better, Guying Trees or Staking Them?

No method is better than the other, staking trees are more suitable for small trees and saplings while guying trees is better for larger trees.

What Is a Tree Support Pole?

You can use a metal pole or wooden post to stake a young tree.

What Is a Tree Crutch?

It’s a literal crutch for a tree like a human with a healing broken leg might use a crutch. Tree crutches are usually installed under the large limbs of large trees to keep them from leaning too far over.

What Is the Best Way To Stake a Tree?

Guying could arguably be the better method since it can also be used for small trees. Staking is an optimal technique with small trees.


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4Cho, R. (2021, November 11). How Close Are We to Climate Tipping Points? State of the Planet. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from <>

5CLEAR Center. (2019, September 20). What is Carbon Sequestration and How Does it Work? UC Davis CLEAR Center. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from <>

6U.S. Census Bureau. (2023, June 27). Monthly New Residential Sales. Census Bureau. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from <>

7Yale, A. J., & Bahler, K. (2022, July 11). What Trees Add the Most Property Value to Your Home? Money. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from <>

8Finholm, V. (2023). Increase Your Home’s Value With Mature Trees. HGTV. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from <>

9U.S. Department of Energy. (2023). Landscaping for Shade. Department of Energy. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from <>

10McInerney, B. (2021, June 22). Do Trees Reduce Energy Costs? How and which trees? Go Tree Quotes. Retrieved July 10, 2023, from <>

11Barcelona tree staking 2017 B Photo by Fructibus / CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. Resized and Changed Format. From Wikimedia Commons <>

12Opus One Winery Photo by Helder Ribeiro / Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA 2.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

13Juniperus ‘Daub’s Frosted’, 2014 Photo by F. D. Richards / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>

14Young trees above former sand quarry Photo by Robin Stott / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Resized and Changed Format. From <>

15Tree staking 3 Photo by Lenore Edman / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). Resized and Changed Format. From Flickr <>