Stakes are temporary. That is what so called maintenance ‘gardeners’ do not seem to understand. Stakes should not stay any longer than necessary, so need to be removed sooner than later, depending on their function. Stakes that are left too long can interfere with the healthy development of the trees and vines that they were intended to help.
Nursery stakes are used either to straighten the trunks of developing trees, or to support climbing vines. They must be removed when the trees or vines that they worked for get installed into the landscape, or as soon after installation as possible. Some flimsy trees may need their stakes for more than their first year.
The problem with leaving trees bound to their nursery stakes for too long is that they rely on the stakes for support as they grow, so do not put much effort into supporting their own weight.
The picture above shows a coast live oak that was staked properly with landscape stakes to the side, but while still bound to the original nursery stake. Because the tree was bound for too long as it grew, it may be too flimsy to support itself without bending when the binding nursery stakes eventually gets removed. For this particular tree, the bindings may need to be removed in phases so that the tree can learn to support itself before the last binding is cut loose.
The problem with leaving vines bound to their nursery stakes is that they remain bundled in the middle while new growth spreads out more naturally. Vines should instead be unbound and spread out onto their support, even if they need to be bound to the new support like they were bound to their nursery stake. Only a few vines that will get cut to the ground annually or after their first growing season, such as Boston ivy and creeping fig, can remain bound through their first year, only because the whole mess will be pruned to the ground, and replaced with new growth later.
The picture below shows a pink jasmine vine that is still bound to its stake, right in front of a disproportionately small trellis. The bundled mess of stems in the middle is partially obscured only because the tangled upper growth is so overgrown. There are so many problems with this unfortunate potted pink jasmine that it will be a topic for next week.P81128+

Landscape stakes are very different from nursery stakes. They are not needed to straighten trunks of trees, but are merely used for a little bit of support while new trees disperse their roots. When trees have adequately dispersed their roots and are stable enough to stand up to a bit of wind on their own, landscape stakes must be removed. They are not as likely to interfere with the development of structural integrity like nursery stakes do, but can interfere with root dispersion and development of adequate stability if trees become reliant on them for support.
The flowering cherry tree in the picture below obviously does not need the support of the unsightly landscape stakes that remain partly strapped to the trunk. The stakes did not compromise stability only because the tree is so naturally stout. The stakes really are unsightly though. So is the overgrown Boston ivy on the trunk and up into the canopy, . . . and the mutilated stubs and stems that were ‘pruned’ by the maintenance ‘gardeners’. Seriously; what kind of ‘gardener’ does this sort of atrocious work?! Well, those topics can be addressed at another time.P81128


14 thoughts on “Horridculture – Well Done Stakes Are Rare

  1. I really enjoyed this post! I am not surprised at how many trees are ill-staked around here. And probably, people have the best of intentions at the planting of a tree, but tend to forget about removing the stakes slowly as to allow the tree to acclimate to being resilient and strong. I think many times the stakes are forgotten all together. Here, we have more problems with buck deer using our slender trees for rubs, so caging is more necessary than staking!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ‘Gardeners’ who charge their clients a good amount of money to maintain their landscapes should not neglect to remove stakes. That is the gripe. It is part of their job! It is more tolerable for those who do not know better to neglect such things.
      To prevent bucks from rubbing the felt from their antlers on young trees, we just wrap a few strong sticks loosely around the trunks. Bamboo works well. We just poke them into the ground a few inches, in a circle around the three, and tie them loosely around the top. Four sticks might be adequate. I prefer six or more.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks , this post has been so informative . It helps to know the how and why of everything before applying the method . You are concise in your explanation .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. you sound just like me LOL, good name for it horridculture! Speaking of pink jasmine, I “inherited” a few from a client that passed away. He always brought them in for the winter as they are not hardy here, but I’m not sure what to do with them inside. Any advice? One is very full on a trellis in a pot, another is in a hanging pot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Goodness! I would not want to grow them inside. They are so weedy. If they are not to overgrown, they were probably cut back annually, and left to regenerate. If so, I would not recommend cutting them back until the weather starts to get warm as winter ends. Otherwise, I do not know how to keep them manageable. Without pruning, they accumulate superfluous stems.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Tony Tomeo and commented:

    Embarrassingly, I have bound disfigured trees to straighten their trunks after they are already installed and actively growing in their landscapes (no longer within nursery production). It is risky, and requires attention to detail, but can be effective if done properly. Of course, that sort of binding, although cringe worthy, is very different from neglect such as this.


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