How to Straighten a Leaning Tree
Trees are a big part of your yard and need to be cared for to be kept in good condition and for maintaining your home’s curb appeal. You can search for “tree service near me” and hire professionals to prune and care for your tree. For now, let’s check out how you can straighten a leaning tree.
1. Causes for a leaning tree – Young trees may start leaning right after they are planted on your landscape. It is natural for the ground to want to settle as you water the tree. Moreover, young trees are weak and may lean due to strong winds and rain. Leaning isn’t limited to young trees either. Even established trees may be impacted by strong storms.
If there’s a prolonged period of constant rainfall, the ground may become too soft, and the roots find it difficult to maintain a strong grip on the ground. Apart from that, old and established trees have the highest chance of leaning during an intense storm or hurricane.
2. Straightening a young tree with stakes – While trees have varying lifespans, one that’s less than one year old is usually considered young. Young trees don’t have an established root system and have many unique issues. If young trees lean just a bit, you don’t need to intervene. The lean should be fixed automatically within weeks. However, if the leaning persists or the angle of the lean increases, you need to straighten it.
3. Staking a young tree – Use a sledgehammer to drive metal or wooden stakes around the boundary of the tree right outside the root ball. If the tree gets a lot of strong wind from one direction, position stakes against that direction to anchor the tree. Drive stakes at a 45-degree angle towards the trunk of the tree.
Next, water the soil around the tree to soften it and apply pressure evenly on the trunk as you push it against the leaning direction. If the root ball of the young tree has shifted inside the soil, you may need to attach a hand winch to hoist the tree. Apply pressure slowly and steadily so that you don’t leave any injuries on the trunk. Tamp the soil around the base of the tree to pack the root ball into the ground. Now, it’s time to secure the tree to the stakes with ropes. You may also use cables with pliable sleeves to protect the trunk.
You can buy nylon cables or make your own by stripping old burlap or canvas from your camping gear. Don’t secure the trunk too tightly. You want it to be able to sway slightly. You can also use a cheap, old garden hose between the trunk and cables to prevent damage to the trunk. Now, you need to leave that setup in place for around one year so that the roots embed themselves in the soil. Till that time, check on the tree and loosen the tension on the cables as necessary.
4. Staking right after planting a young tree – Since leaning is so common for young trees, some homeowners stake and secure a young tree right after planting it in their yard and keep it that way for one year. However, tree professionals warn you to be careful about leaving a stake for too long. If you don’t remove the stakes on time, the tree will grow weak. The trunk needs a degree of flexibility to grow a strong and upright trunk. Make sure that you leave some room for the trunk to sway and remove the stake after a year.
5. Straightening medium-sized trees – You can also stake a medium-sized tree if it starts leaning. Leave the stake and the support system for a season so that the tree straightens and remains that way. Get wooden or metal stakes that are strong and at least 5 feet long. Hammer a stake in the ground in the opposite direction of the lean. Make sure to hammer the stake at least 18 inches away from the tree and into the ground at an angle of 15 degrees. This way you don’t damage the roots.
Cut a piece from a rubber hose and feed a ratchet through the middle. Make sure that it’s long enough to wrap around the trunk of the tree and protect it. Now feed a wire through the rubber hose and use it to secure the trunk of the tree to the stake. Monitor the tree every week and tighten the strap when it goes loose.
Make sure to remove the stakes after one season. Loosen the straps and take them off completely when you see that the tree stands straight without leaning for at least a month. While you can remove the stake any time, wait for a full season of growth to remove the straps.
6. Straightening large trees – When it comes to large trees, it’s best to leave it to professionals. You need to be very careful if you attempt it yourself. Measure the diameter of the tree and dig a trench around it to free up the roots. Use a shovel to dig a trench around the trunk that’s at least 10 inches for every inch of the trunk’s diameter and keep the depth up to two feet.
If the tree is unusually large, the trench would be impractical, and you’ll need to hire a professional tree-moving company. Place a pad on the trunk and wrap a rope around it. Next, wrap the rope around the mat to tie and secure it. You are free to use old blankets or foam pads for protecting the bark of the tree. Now pull the tree with the rope till it’s straight and upright and secure it to the ground.
Since trees are such a significant part of your landscape, you need to spend a lot of time and resources for maintaining them in optimal health. You can use the above-mentioned tips to straighten your trees. If things seem too difficult, you may search for “tree service near me” and get professional help.