I just bought and planted a JM and I'm thinking that I should stake it as it is top heavy and the south wind comes over my house more than I thought it would. I know many don't recommend staking, but I'm just afraid that I'm going to have problems if I don't stake it, at least for one year.
I have seen many methods of staking, so I'm wondering which method you guys feel is best for this tree?
Also, with it being so top heavy, how high up would you stake at? The tree is about 10 feet tall.
To follow up, after spending part of the day watching my maple blow about, I don't believe staking would help as it is usually done from the middle down on the truck. The top part of the maple is the problem as it is really blowing from a small wind. Is there a way to deal with this problem at this stage? I would imagine pruning is out? What about adding guy wires to the top part?
There are others far more qualified than me to answer your questions. With that said I wonder if an alternate location might be more appropriate for your tree. I know it's probably not what you want to hear but I think the leaves on Japanese Maples can be sensitive to excessive windy conditions. My JM is very prone to leaf shreading in windy conditions- far more than the other Acers in my landscape. It requires a protected location. Regardless of your decision to stake or not stake- I worry about the leaves getting shreaded up in the wind.
Again, this forum has many people I would consider experts on this topic. I am definitely not one of them. I'm sure you'll receive more quality responses in the days ahead.
I spoke with the guy I purchased the tree from, at my local nursery, and he suggested that I take a piece of bamboo the height of the tree, and put it in the ground by the truck running it all the way up to the top and secure it a little lose at the bottom, a little tighter at the middle, and somewhat tight at the top.
What do you guys thinks of this plan before my tree blows over?
Around 40 views and no answers? Can't someone offer some advice?
A lot of those views could be web-indexing robots (like from Google).
Until you get a better answer, I suggest you go with the best answer you have at the moment. This probably is the guy's advice who sold you the tree. Without really knowing how much your tree is blowing, you might want to stake it as described until you get more experienced advice from the forums members.
After describing to you the problems my maple has with wind, my potted JM's new leaves were a bit beaten up by the strong winds we had yesterday. I felt it necessary to move it to a more protected location for the day to prevent tattering of the leaves.
Also- Keep in mind that the advice given to conform to Japanese aesthetics may not necessarily be the same advice you would receive at a traditional nursery or garden center.
A significant part of Japanese Gardening is patience. Answers will be offered. The members of the forum
who practice on a daily basis are very busy this time of the year and check the forum when they have the time.
Your maple is an obvious nursery specimen, grown close to others in tight rows. This causes them
to grow very tall and spindly as they are trying to compete for light. The top of the maple needs to be thinned and reduced
in order for the tree to develop some trunk taper. If the tree was potted when you bought it, then it has its whole root system intact. This would allow a better chance of dealing with the loss of some of its canopy. I am not sure staking all the way up into the crown will help as the tree needs to have movement to develop reaction wood that helps it deal with various stresses placed upon it by wind, rain etc. Hopefully a member with more experience with Jmaples can offer more advice.
I'd go with Al's advice over my previous post.
You have already had good feedback. We never stake Japanese Maples, but we place them in more or less sheltered locations, for the reason Mark stated.
Why does it matter if the tree moves? If the "sail" is too full for the "vessel", trim your "sails", as Al mentioned, but once you fnd that equilibium, allow the trunk to lean and meander as it grows.
The only reason I can see to stake would be to prevent root damage. If that is necessary, in most cases, try another location. Only if the tree has similar root instabilty to a bare-root transplant, you could wrap the trunk in a smooth protective material, wrap again with twine, and secure to a tripod of poles (that make no bark contact) about 2/3 up the trunk. This cannot stay on long,or damage will occur. Check every month or so.
Thanks for the interesting replies.
Al, you are correct in that it is a nursery bought tree and is was grown in a pot, 10 gallon. You say that "the top needs to be thinned and reduced". Is it okay to do this now, or should I wait for a while, and if so, how long? How much should I take off? Just a little a would assume at this point until next winter?
James, I have read that staking is also bad for the tree, and I don't think it will help the top heavy problem anyway. Would you thin the top also, or just leave it alone for now?
Etehiver, I really don't have another place for this tree, but thanks for your thoughts as well. I have 5 other maples and they do have more shelter, so I might have just selected the wrong tree for the location.
I know that this is the busy time for your guys and I really appreciate your time. Does anyone else have any other thoughts regarding my tree?
personally I'd stake it. Low down, to hold it still so the roots can get going. In the UK we tend to stake low, to allow as much of the tree to grow naturally, and thicken up in response to the wind (but the movement at the top will cause a bit of root rock, hence the staking)
Pruning the top is what I recommend. How much to remove is based on the wind/tree balance (select the amount by the "sail" analogy). I doubt you would hurt the tree if you removed even up to the top 1/3.
Hi Steve, I agree with all of the comments, Staking your young maple low to protect it from the wind for the first few months after planting so the roots can get established is a good idea. But keeping a tree staked for years is bad, it will not develop the strength it needs in its trunk to become a healthy specimen later. When you are pruning, start with branches that are rubbing or close together. Take your time and prune off a little and see how it reacts to the wind before removing more. This way you only remove what is needed.
Through knowledge on this forum I have had much better luck keeping my JM's alive since having them planted next to or beside boulders. It keeps the roots protected from heat in the summer and cold in the winter. Something you may consider, it also makes a eye appealing area where you can incorporate another lower plant and some ground cover to help with the seasonal stresses the weather puts on your new plant.
My two cents: Try to wait until the new spring growth has turned its final green color. This would give time for sap flow to slow down. Then watch the plant in the wind to see where the problem wind is coming from - thin with this in mind, but a little at a time. Like Jake said, staking very low is a good practice to allow the roots to get a good hold. We drive rebar in an x pattern near the base (about 1 foot or less), one on one side of the trunk and the other opposite. If the wind is from many directions, then 3 stakes are appropriate.
I would like to thank everyone for their replies. I trimmed just a little off the top yesterday and actually found some very small branches tangled together, so I just removed these as they were grown together from neglect. All of my wind problems are from the south mainly with some north wind.
So based on the majority of replies I believe I will add just 2 small stakes at north and south for maybe 3-6 months to get the "wobble" out of the trunk so the roots can start growing. I may just leave them on until this fall when the tree defoliates and I should be fine. Once again, thanks to all for your help. Simple things aren't!