By Katie Neis
There’s a wise old saying at Friends of Trees: “No one likes a saggy twine.” So if you’re standing on your front porch and see that your twine has started to sag or has gotten tight around the tree, it’s time to cut it loose.
The twine is strung across the stakes partly to remind people that it’s a newly planted tree so they are careful with car doors and foot traffic and partly to support the tree in severely windy conditions. It makes a great place for us to hang our fun tree tags to inspire others to plant even more trees, too.
We recommend keeping the twine and stakes on for one year, but if for any reason your twine gets tight against the bark of the tree or rubs bark away, remove it right away. The tree will be perfectly fine without it.
A tree transports all sugars, water and nutrients through a layer of phloem tissue. Phloem is found just under the bark of the tree, and if the twine starts pinching the bark, it could pinch the phloem, cutting off nutrient flow and resulting in the death of your new tree.
We tie the twine around the tree with a loop so the tree can move a bit in the wind but not blow over. This gentle sway will cause the tree to form “reaction wood” in its roots and trunk to withstand the wind patterns of its new home.
In rare cases we do use twine or stakes to help correct the shape of the tree, but if you see the twine tight around the bark, cut it loose. A properly planted tree should always hold itself up. The twine is there to gently provide support to the new tree in severe winds, not for the tree to lean against.
-Neis is Neighborhood Trees Assistant at Friends of Trees.