Should you stake this tree? The root ball is small in proportion to the height of the tree and won’t be able to provide adequate support. The author points to the height the tree should be for a root ball of this size. So, yes, you should stake this one.
With apologies to Shakespeare and Hamlet, to stake or not to stake is the question. When it comes to staking trees, too many gardeners choose the former option. It is true that there are situations when a young tree is thankful for some mechanical aid, but not as often as many gardeners imagine. Furthermore, even when staking is beneficial to a newly planted tree, it usually remains so for only a short period of time.
Staking a tree that does not need it can do more harm than good. Movement of the trunk helps strengthen it by thickening it and giving it taper from bottom to top. Trunk movement also stimulates root growth. So although staked trees might grow taller faster than their unstaked counterparts, their trunks are weaker and their root systems are less developed.
When done incorrectly, staking further compounds a young tree’s problems. If a tree is tied to a stake too tightly, girdling can occur, weakening and even possibly killing the tree unless the problem is addressed in time. Movement of a tree above where it is tied too tightly to a stake, like movement of an unstaked trunk, results in a thicker trunk above the tie. This difference in thickness upsets smooth travel of water and nutrients up and down the developing trunk. Too tight a tie coupled with too rigid a stake can anchor a plant so firmly below the tie that a strong wind can actually blow off the top of the tree. Tying a tree too loosely to a stake also causes problems. The bark is continuously rubbed, resulting in wounds that may never heal properly.