Live Stakes

What are they and what species can we use?

Live stakes are an inexpensive and simple technique used to restore eroding stream banks.  If a stream bank is left bare without a strong root mass in the soil it will keep eroding.  This leads to sediment pollution in the water, and loss of land as more of the stream bank erodes.  A solution to these issues is to restore the riparian buffer (Riparian buffers are vegetated areas next to water resources that protect water resources from nonpoint source pollution and provide bank stabilization and aquatic and wildlife habitat).  Live staking is a practice that introduces plant life directly to the areas that need it along the bank.  It is a low cost solution that can easily be done by anyone on their property. Live stakes are stem cuttings from a tree taken during the trees dormant season.  The stakes, once planted will grow into new trees along the stream bank.

Harvesting Live Stakes

You can buy live stakes from a local nursery, or you can harvest them directly from trees that are already on your property!  Species that do particularly well as live stakes are Poplars, Willows, Elderberry, and Dogwoods.  You want to cut stakes that are ½ to 1½ inches in diameter and 2-3 feet in length.  The bottom of the stake should be cut at an angle to form a point and then placed in water to prevent it from drying out. It is best to plant the stakes soon after harvesting.  When planting make sure the stakes are placed 2-3 feet apart in rows along the stream bank, insert the stake into the ground at a 90 degree angle.  During the first growing season you may see some leaf growth, but root growth is more important in the first year.  Gently tug on a few stakes in the fall to determine how successful your plantings were.  If some of your plantings didn't make it you can always plant more!