Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Stuff aesthetics, do what is right for the tree!

See how I staked and tied my tree in the post below?

You ANGLE the stakes, folks.


For two reasons:

a) it helps the stakes withstand the pulling force of the ties…really important in Perth sand

b) it keeps the tops of the stakes away from the swaying branches of the tree….really important in reducing damage

Why don't all councils do this?

In some cases it's just a lack of training. But in others it's "aesthetics". They want everything "neat and uniform".

Bing bong. Sorry. It must always be tree first, aesthetics second. Besides, if ALL your trees are planted with angled stakes, there IS uniformity(!)

While we're at it, if you enlarge the picture you'll also see the correct way to tie a young tree…ie TWO SEPARATE TIES, each pulling in the opposite direction. "Oh, there's lots of correct ways to tie trees" folks will say. No. There isn't. I've tried them all. This is the ONLY way that works over the long haul.

Also while I'm at it, remember to REGULARLY TIGHTEN YOUR TIES. The tie material is stretchy (it has to be to allow the tree to move a little) and always slackens off over time. You should be re-tightening them weekly in my experience. I know that's what I'll be doing with mine.

Someone might look at the picture and say "he preaches large grass-free circles around new trees but doesn't do it himself".

Two things:

(a) the circle is actually bigger that it looks in this photo…the longish grass is hiding it a bit

b) I will gradually ENLARGE the circle as the tree grows….not really practical to do this on a mass scale hence why I advise setting them up with large circles in the first place.

What else?

Notice the "caliper" of the trees….that's the thickness of the trunk at ground level. Very small in this case. Not really the specimens you would be choosing for public tree planting but again, two reasons*:

a) Poincianas are like hens teeth at the moment….I took what I could get

b) I will mollycoddle these trees through their very vulnerable early stages… again, not really practical for large-scale plantings

Anything else?

Yeah, I could talk for a LONG time yet: how much to tease out the roots when planting, how wide and deep to dig the hole relative to the root ball, how to backfill correctly, how to water in correctly…

Suffice to say, the lesson I was taught by my mentor 35 years ago remains true:


From what we're seeing around the place, this lesson has been lost somewhere along the line.

* A good example of why very small caliper trees are risky: Lou (see a picture of him a couple of posts down) wrapped his choppers around one of them the day after planting. Ringbarked it (and actually split the trunk I realised later). The tree VERY quickly gave up the ghost - no resilience you see. Lou very nearly gave up the ghost too. I wanted to turn him into sausages but my wife came to his rescue.


  1. Gawd, I'm loving that the blog is back. This is enabling my fantasies about the day I can plant more trees around ground that I own!
    (Right now we have a renter in our place in Como and I'm not sure how she'd feel if I popped in to angle the stake on the dwarf Crepe Myrtle I planted a couple of years ago... to think of it, I now wish I'd planted something bigger)

    1. "Stake" or "stakes" plural? Never use a single stake. Either the tree will end up weak if you've got it tightly tied (think leg in a splint for a couple of years) or the tree will bash itself to bits if it's tied loose. No winners there. Always use two stakes - sometimes even three or four in very windy situations.

      Regarding Crepe Myrtle: meh. As you say, too small. They also used to get horrible fungal problems on their leaves although I believe the more recently bred varieties have dealt with that. They never amount to much of a tree though and unfortunately you don't realise it until ten years down the track and you're still looking at a runt. And that's ten years of good growth you could have been getting out of something else. My advice is bite the bullet, pull it out and replant. Poinciana is hard to beat - but I'm not biased. Well, maybe a bit...