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How to Fix a Leaning Tree | Splintered Forest Tree Services


By Splintered Forest - July 21, 2022

Having a leaning tree on your property is not likely the look you had in mind when you planned out your landscaping. If you’re dealing with this issue, you’re likely wondering how to fix a leaning tree. Can it be saved? Do you need to cut it down? When is it time to call in the professionals?

Why Do Trees Start to Lean?

As small, young trees grow, they may start to lean due to various factors. High winds could push a tree over enough to keep it rooted yet allow it to lean. Heavy rains can also contribute to a leaning tree. If the soil surrounding the tree stays too wet for too long, the tree could start to lean. While this isn’t always going to harm the tree, it can look out of place and may eventually start to lean more as it grows and matures, which could cause issues later on. Mature trees can also start to lean if the soil conditions are wet enough. 

What To Do When Young Trees Lean

If your newly purchased sapling endured a rough night of windy, wet weather, you might notice it is now leaning. Knowing how to fix a leaning tree in this situation can save your tree from growing crooked or possibly dying. If the soil is still wet, it shouldn’t be too hard to do, but it the soil dried out, you can soak it with a garden hose first. Here are the steps you can follow:
  1. Use a mallet or sledgehammer to drive 2-3 stakes into the ground, at a 45-degree angle, around the tree. Take care not to place them too close to the tree to avoid hitting the rootball. 
  2. Push the tree upright using even pressure along the trunk. This could take more than one person if the tree is already a decent size. If the tree was already fairly rooted, this may take a bit of effort, but use slow, steady pressure to avoid damaging the trunk or branches. 
  3. Use straps meant for staking a tree (found at the hardware store) and secure the tree to the stakes. Using straps that are wide and made of canvas is ideal to avoid damaging the tree. Never use rope, cables, or barbed wire as this will harm the tree and leave it susceptible to disease and pests. 
  4. Check the position of the tree after you’ve tied the straps to the stakes and reposition if necessary by tightening one side or the other to get it fully upright. 
  5. If the soil around the base of the tree has shifted, gently push it down to keep the roots protected, and further support the tree. 
  6. Give the tree time to anchor itself in the new position. You may want to keep an eye on it for the first several months, especially if it has been windy or rainy, to ensure the straps haven’t come loose, allowing the tree to lean again. 

How to Fix a Leaning Tree That Is Mature

Even mature trees can end up leaning when the right conditions are present. The sooner you can start to correct a mature tree that is leaning, the better. The steps to fix a leaning tree that is mature are similar to the ones listed above for a younger tree. However, you will need to use heavier-duty stakes placed further away from the tree to avoid damaging the large root base. You will want to drive these stakes at least 18 inches into the ground for stability. If there is another large tree nearby and in the direction you want the tree to go, you could attach your straps to it. Be sure you protect both the leaning tree and the other tree with padding around the trunk if you choose this route. You may also need longer or thicker straps to bear the weight of the heavy tree. 

An important thing to remember when correcting a mature tree is that it will take time. Once the tree is straight, you may need to leave the cables in for several years to maintain the straightened position. 

Pro Tip

If the tree that is leaning appears to be posing a hazard to a nearby structure and you are unable to correct the leaning yourself, it may be time to remove the tree. Mature trees are very heavy and if one ends up falling, it can cause a lot of serious damage. If the tree does not appear that it can be saved, a tree removal business will have the experience, knowledge, and tools to safely remove your leaning tree. 

Call Splintered Forest Tree Service For Tree Removal

Splintered Forest offers a wide range of tree-related services, including tree trimming and tree removal. Splintered Forest has two knuckle boom cranes and experienced operators to complete the job. If you’re unable to fix your leaning tree and need it removed, call in the experts at 303-819-9840 today or click here to get a free estimate!