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University of Minnesota Extension

Staking and guying trees

Quick facts

  • Staking provides support to newly planted or damaged trees, but is not always necessary.
  • Stem attachment materials should be wide and flexible to prevent damage to the tree.
  • Straightening wind blown trees is possible, but can be difficult and depends on many factors.
Two canvas straps attached to tree stem.
Double staking method. Always attach the stem loosely to the stakes to allow for flexibility.

When is staking necessary?

Staking is often unnecessary. Occasionally, newly planted trees may require staking when:

  • They have unusually small root systems that can’t physically support the larger, above-ground growth (stem and leaves).
  • The stem bends excessively when not supported.
  • The planting site is very windy and trees will be uprooted if they are not supported.
  • There’s a good chance that vandals will uproot or damage unprotected trees.

Install the staking or guying attachments at planting time or straightening time and leave them in place for one growing season.

If done properly, staking provides stability until the tree can support itself. However, if staking is done poorly or for too long, it can do far more harm than good.



Staking a tree


Wind thrown trees

Black and white diagram showing a wind thrown tree.
Wind thrown tree

Occasionally, wind thrown trees can be straightened and saved. The success of this technique depends on several key factors, however:

  • It must be a true wind throw. That is, the roots must be pushing up through the heaved soil.
    • If the tree is leaning or horizontal and there is no evidence that the roots are pushing up and heaving the soil, then the tree stem probably broke off below ground and is essentially lost.
  • Straightening a wind thrown tree is most successful when the trees are relatively small: Up to 15-20 feet in height and a stem diameter of six inches or less. 
    • Larger trees may be straightened, but it takes a skilled tree care company with special equipment to perform the operation.
  • The roots must still be alive. 
    • If they have dried out or if it’s several days after the windstorm, the chances of success are greatly reduced.
  • The soil must be moist. 
    • Straightening trees in dry soil conditions, especially in clay soil, is generally not a very successful operation.
  • The tree should be in good health. 
    • If the tree was diseased, infested with insect pests or otherwise stressed, the chances of survival are not very good.
  • Shallow-rooted species (e.g. maples) may be straightened with more success than deep-rooted species (e.g. walnut).

Splinting trees


Gary R. Johnson, Extension forestry specialist and associate professor of urban and community forestry and Tracy Few, researcher, University of Minnesota Department of Forest Resources

Reviewed in 2020

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