How to Stake a Small Leaning Tree

Updated November 21, 2016

Storm damage, strong winds, improper planting and insufficient light can all cause a young tree to lean. If your tree is heavily shaded on one side, cut the surrounding foliage back and the lean may correct itself. In other cases, you can correct a small tree less than 12 feet tall with staking and guying. If the tree is in a high-traffic area, keep the stakes and guy wires inside the drip-line of the widest branches so that people are less likely to trip over them.

Measure the distance from the base of the trunk to the lowest set of branches. Subtract 1/3 of that distance. That's the height from the ground where you will attach the guy wires to the tree.

Measure the tree's height. Step back in the opposite direction of the tree's lean to a distance of 1/2 the height of the tree. For a 10-foot tree, that's 5 feet. Mark the spot.

Drive the eyelet stakes into the ground 2-1/2 feet from either side of the spot, angling the tip at 45 degrees back toward the trunk until only 3 inches are showing above ground.

Form two separate loops from the canvas strips, knotting them around the trunk of the tree at the 2/3 mark you measured on the trunk. Slip the ends of the wires through the loops and twist to secure them.

Run the other ends of the wires through the eyelets. Pull back gently on the wires to correct the lean of the tree, then twist and secure the wire to the eyelet. Clip off excess wire with wire cutters.


Check the canvas strips periodically to be sure the bark underneath is intact. Loosen slightly if necessary.


Don't wrap wires around the trunk of a young tree. The contact of metal with the trunk will damage bark and girdle the tree, killing it.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • 24-inch steel stakes with eyelets
  • 18-gauge wire
  • Canvas straps
  • Wire cutters
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