Many vegetable plants and some ornamentals require support so the stems don't break under the weight of fruit or flowers. Tomatoes, beans and peas are vegetables that benefit from staking. Dahlias and other single stalk, large flowered plants also benefit. Make the stake a height that compliments the plant you are supporting. Too tall stakes are unsightly in the garden, but stakes that are too short don't offer enough support. Most flowering plants only require a 2- to 3-foot stake while vegetables require 5 to 6 feet in most cases.
Choose a length of wood for your stake. Use straight, untreated wood that is at least 1 inch in diameter. Scrap lumber or branches pruned from large trees work well.
Cut the bottom of the wood off at a 45 degree angle using a hand saw or table saw, leaving behind a point. This is the bottom of the stake.
Hammer nails into either side of the stake to make a support for beans and peas. Alternate nails on either side, spacing them 2 inches apart and leaving 1 inch of the nail head sticking out from the wood to form a trellis for the legume vines to climb.
Push the stake into the ground behind the seedling at time of planting. Push it in at least 6 inches or 8 to 10 inches if wind is a problem in your garden. For small ornamental flower stakes, push it in 4 inches.
Tie the plants to the stake as they grow, except for beans and peas which will twine around the stake on their own. Use cloth ties such as strips of old T-shirts or pantyhose, and tie the plant loosely to the stake.