“I know a guy who knows a guy…” by Charlie Noton

We’ve been talking in the office recently about the Platipus guying systems for underground tree staking. Developed in 1983, their system has had a foothold in the market ever since..and with good reason. Greenleaf brought in Arborguy with a ratchet system and a more recycled option. Contractors love a purpose-built package that is easy to price for clients and has a good reputation. Plus high costs mean a higher mark up on supply and install. 

In many cases, it is the best system to use, however we have a few hang ups: The kit costs  a lot of money, including the driving bar to force the barbs in along with the other specialised kit that is normally required… an investment if you need to plant a few trees as a landscape company for a line off job. As well as this, we find the recycled heads of Arborguy can crack when being driven in, especially on flint or brash soils. On clay soils it is also hard to get the heads to lock out, as they end up sliding up and down when soil is wet - so neither system works well. 

We came across a great cost-effective system from a nursery in Holland a few years ago and have evolved the technique for our own specific site use. It’s simple: stakes are inserted with a digger or knocked in by hand tight against the root ball. As the straps are ratcheted tight, the tension pushes down on the rootball, drawing the whole configuration downwards and inwards, fixing it solid. 

It can be used in conjunction with overground supports if required in exposed areas at risk of severe wind rock. We’ve used this system on a large planting of 20-60cm girth parkland trees at Newnton House, without any overground support. The project was a great success and benefitted aesthetically from the lack of overground visual structures which was a priority for the design.

On rock, replace wooden stakes with pointed angle iron. Steel marquee pegs are more expensive but can be driven into solid rock.

We'd love your experiences of tree staking; overground and underground? Has anybody else come across alternative solutions?

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