How To Prevent and Correct Trees From Leaning

Do you have a really beautiful old tree in your yard? Is it looking sick? Learn more about nursing a sick tree back to health.

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Getting my tree back to life

I have a really beautiful old olive tree in my backyard. I love sitting under it on warm summer night. Unfortunately, the tree got a bit of a knock from the truck that brought in our swimming pool this summer, and it has been looking quite sick ever since and hasn't had any olives yet this year. I am very attached to the tree, so I have got a guy from the tree service company making weekly visits to give it extra fertilising and trimming to try to promote growth. This blog is all about nursing a sick old tree back to health with help from a tree service company.

How To Prevent and Correct Trees From Leaning

28 September 2016
, Blog

In an ideal world, all the trees in your garden would grow perfectly straight.  However, all types of trees can be susceptible to storm damage and can be left leaning at an angle.  Not only does this spoil the look of your tree, but also it can be dangerous in the case of large, mature specimens that could fall down altogether, damaging property or even causing injury to you or members of your family.

Fortunately, you should be able to prevent the problem of a leaning tree at the time of planting.  Older trees that lean can be corrected, without having to resort to removal, unless the tree is badly diseased or damaged beyond saving.  You can take on this job yourself, or ask a good tree services contractor to tackle the job for you if you prefer.

Read on for some helpful tips.

Young trees

When planting young saplings, especially if the site is windy or exposed, it's recommended that you stake them until they become stronger and their root system is more established. 

Your local garden centre will have everything you need for this job.  Choose robust stakes made of metal or strong wood that are at least the same height as the tree you're planting, taking into account sufficient length to accommodate the planting hole.  You'll also need a guy rope and a rubber strap. 

  1. When you've dug your planting hole, drive the stake into the ground so that it is flush with the edge of the hole.  
  2. Make sure that the stake is sited upwind of the tree so that it can absorb the tree's movement on windy days.    
  3. When the stake is in situ, plant your tree and fill-in the hole.  
  4. Fix the guy rope to the stake, not to the tree itself.  A guy rope attached directly to the young tree will damage the bark, potentially exposing the tree to invasion by pests or disease.  
  5. Finally, attack the guy rope to the tree trunk by means of a rubber strap that won't chafe the tree's bark.  Gradually pull the guy rope taut so that the tree is straight.

Mature trees

If you have a mature tree that is damaged during high winds so that it is left leaning, it may be possible to save it.  For the exercise to succeed, it's important that at least a third of the tree's root system is still in the ground and that the remaining roots are not badly damaged.  A tree that has been completely flattened cannot be saved and should be removed by a professional.

  1. Start by digging out as much of the soil from beneath the exposed roots as possible.  
  2. Carefully push the tree back upright.  For safety reasons, in the case of very large trees, you should ask your tree services contractor to do this for you, using specialist equipment. 
  3. The exposed roots should now have disappeared back below the surface of the ground.  Take the excavated soil and pack it around the roots firmly.  
  4. Fasten several guy ropes to the tree's trunk and fix them securely at least three metres from the tree trunk.  Pull the tree upright by tightening the guy ropes.

In conclusion

It may be possible to prevent your young trees from leaning by staking them when you plant them.  Mature trees that have been storm damaged and left leaning can sometimes be straightened again, but this is a job that's best left to a professional tree services company.