How to straighten a leaning tree

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Why fruit trees grow crooked or unsuccessful

“How do I plant a tree?” This question plagues many homeowners. Anticipating bringing home a tree from the heart of the garden and enjoying strong, upright plants for years to come, gardeners are disappointed. Their plants begin to lean sideways right after they are buried in the ground. For example, one reader writes

“I planted this tree about six years ago. I planted it when it was a small twig. It is now about six feet tall.

“It is growing very well, except that it leans to one side to the point where the tree has to be straightened to keep it from being bent by the wind. Will the tree straighten over time or not? Does it need to be supported?”

To answer that question, here are some thoughts for the average gardener.

How to properly straighten tree

Here are some tips and questions to consider when straightening wood for a canopy.

  • When you straighten wood, are you using the right scissors?
  • Make sure you are straightening the wood for the right reason and not on the advice of your neighbors. Also remember the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
  • A related question: did you give the warped tree an adequate “strengthening period” before removing the support? Some people want to remove the support early because it’s hard for them to watch the tree deteriorate. Be patient and leave the support in place for a year.
  • Inspect the soil under your tree. Is it stable, the kind that the tree’s roots can rest on? If not, this may be the reason why the tree is not growing straight up. If this is the case, it is recommended that the tree be replanted elsewhere. This will be a much healthier solution in the long run.
  • A hardware store sells special straps to tie around the tree. Supporting wires are passed through the holes in this rope, which can then be laced and straightened when they reach the trunk of the tree. Wires that can come into contact with the tree will damage the bark. Whenever you tie something to a tree, beware of damaging its bark.

How to save money on your purchase

Here’s an extra tip for those who are frugal. What if you don’t want to pay for a special strap? Well, there’s a workaround. Thread a wire (or rope, or twist) through a short section of old rubber or plastic hose. Pieces of these hoses may remain after the garden fountain pump is installed.

The important thing is that the hose touches the tree trunk, not the wire. Because the hose material is soft, there is little friction. There is less chance of bark damage.

Having problems with kinks in the selected length of hose? Blow through it with a flame at one end. This will remove the thin strands of twist that are slipping in the hose.

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