If you are planting a tree in a windy spot, or where ground conditions are soft a young sapling requires a little extra support to take hold. Used properly, a tree stake stabilizes your new tree and gives it a great start toward a strong future.
Select the proper tie material. Good sources for tree ties are nylon stockings, elastic webbing, and bicycle inner tubes. The inner tubes are best because rubber tubing gives support but also expands for movement. Rubber grips well so it doesn't slide around and damage the surface of the trunk in heavy winds.
Select the proper stake material. The best stakes are easy to drive into the ground, easy to pull out, and very rigid. The best stakes are smaller than the tree and do not shade them. If there is too much shade from the stake the tree will grow sideways away from it. Rebar makes a great tree stake, wood stakes, or metal piping.
Decide on the number of stakes required. Small trees, less than 4 inches in diameter only need one stake. Use 2 or 3 stakes for trees greater than 4 inches in diameter. If your sapling's trunk is larger than 4 inches, consider the need for a stake. If the tree is very tall, but the root ball is small and compact, you need a stake even if the trunk is over 4 inches in diameter. A large, strong sapling with a good, well-spread root system does not need a stake. Staking a tree that does not need it can damage it.
Drive stakes 2 feet into the ground with a post pounder. Make sure enough of the stake is above the surface that no one will trip over the ties. 3 feet is a good stake height above the ground.
Staple, or tie, the tubing to the stake. Twist it in a figure 8 between the stake and the tree, and then tie around the trunk of the tree in a loose knot. Check on the stake often to be sure it is not cutting into the tree or restricting movement completely. The young tree should bend a little in the wind so that it develops properly.