Gardening tools Staking plants

Tree Ties Made From Garden Hose: Bad Idea!

Two sections of garden hose used as a tree ties on one trunk.
Sections of garden hose don’t make good tree ties. Photo: Pinterest

I’d be surprised to hear that any serious gardener has never seen a tree attached to its stake by a tie made from a length of recycled garden hose. One where the tree planter slipped a metal cable or a nylon rope through a short length of garden hose to wrap around the trunk.

Such a system is so common that it’s practically ubiquitous. If you have any doubt, check out what social media and other online media information sources (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) suggest you do to recycle an old garden hose. 10 to 1, the very first suggestion they make is to use lengths of it to make tree ties. And yet that information is totally wrong!

A Stake Tie Made From Garden Hose: Why Not?

Still, it seems like a logical thing to do. After all, won’t the hose prevent the rough cable or rope from rubbing directly against the trunk? Clearly. And you’d think that would be enough. But since a hose is tubular, in fact, only a thin section of it actually touches the trunk directly… exactly as with a cable or rope. Therefore, there can easily be harmful friction not to mention constant pressure on the bark that can end up by cutting off much of the circulation of the sap through the tree. Not a good start!

Tree trunk damaged by hose-cover wire here partially removed.
If you use a length of garden hose as a tree tie, expect this kind of damage, if not even more serious injuries! Photo:

In addition, the hose tends to bend in half over time as it hardens, squeezing the trunk in the process. Thus, it will put pressure on the sides of the trunk as well.

In other words, this effort to reuse an old garden hose simply does more harm than good. And that’s to be expected: a garden hose is made for watering; it was never designed for staking!

A Flat Tree Tie Will Do

If you feel that your newly planted tree needs staking (which is very rarely the case: read Do Trees Really Need Staking? to learn more on the subject), use a real tree tie to support it instead. You’ll find there is a wide range of ties on the market that can be used to attach a tree to its stake: plastic, metal covered with plastic, rubber, etc. And they do it safely, with no harm to the tree.

Attaches larges et plates sur un tronc.
The best tree ties are wide and flat. Ill.: Claire Tourigny

But regardless of their composition, the best ties are those that are flat and wide, but still flexible, like a belt. Thus, a large surface actually touches the trunk and there is no risk of a narrow section cutting into the bark.

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

2 comments on “Tree Ties Made From Garden Hose: Bad Idea!

  1. Oh, I have used these, but only for ‘special circumstances’. For example, I needed to support a small valley oak temporarily as it recovered from getting hit by a truck. It could not stay too long because it was under tension. It worked. The particular tree remains staked for now, but with normal ties without tension. Also, I used these for trunks of new bamboo palms until they dispersed roots. Palm trunks do not expand.

  2. I see a lot of this in our area of Texas. It’s usually done by the Hispanic yard crews that plant the trees and shrubs. The folks that plant their own trees use the flat cloth method, if anything at all. Most trees will be fine without all the fuss.

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