Saving a Tree that is Falling Over

It crossed my mind this morning that we are in August. September is the other month of the equinox (exactly half a year away from Shakespeare’s “Beware the Ides of March”). March and September are the months when the Earth tilts just more than halfway to or from the Sun.

So September and March are the months where gales are most likely and trees are most at risk of being blown over. Fruit trees are especially vulnerable, especially when laden in autumn.

I hope this does not happen to you, but if it does, here is how you can save a leaning tree (…and you might want to take preventative action on trees that are leaning now). By the way, if the tree falls over, cut it up for firewood – it cannot be saved. These instructions only apply to trees that are LEANING:
1. You need to stabilize the tree (stop it from leaning more). The best way to do this is by propping it up. Anything long enough and strong enough will do.  Your local friendly engineering workshop will make you up a Y shaped prop, or you can use a stout bit of timber (cut down floor or roof joist from a skip, 3″x3″ fence post, something like that). An Acrow prop would be the best if you can get one – incredibly strong and capable of being made longer or shorter while in position.

Ideally you want to give the prop a foundation, so it does not drive into the soil under the weight of the tree. Obviously a concrete footing is best, but a paving slab will do the job, even a large rock. The prop needs to be as close to right angles to the trunk of the tree as possible and held really tightly by the foundation. Concrete does this all by itself.  For anything else jam the prop in by hitting its base towards the bottom of the tree so it slides across and then gets stuck on the foundation.

2. Ideally in winter (but if the tree is leaning badly do it now) completely cut out one of the large branches that is causing the tree to lean. This reduces the weight that is causing the tree to lean. You can do another the year after and so on. This winter or next spring, prune the side AWAY from where the tree is leaning and prune it [B]hard[/B].

Sounds mad, but it will cause new growth on the “good” side which will help stop it falling over.

3. As a minimum, the tree should stabilise and more root will form away from the direction it is leaning which will anchor it. If it is relatively small, you can gradually force it upright as the tree reshapes. Keep on pushing it up and in a few years it will be vertical.

But let’s hope the winds don’t blow.

Watch your plants grow, and Enjoy!

By Ashridge Support

Ashridge Nurseries has been in the business of delivering plants since 1949.


  1. David Pike says:

    Hi, I have a very mature (main trunk diameter of 37cm) Victoria Plum tree which annually bears abundant fruit. The tree is leaning 40deg from the horizontal (50deg from vertical). I feel it is beyond recovery but I want to prevent any increased lean. What strategy/techique should I use? Is it valid to prop the main trunk with a sturdy rot-free trunk of a recently felled tree? What angle and where would be the most ideal placement be? Should I shape the supporting end to fit around the Plum tree trunk? Thank you.

    1. Ashridge Support says:

      The best thing would be to get a tree surgeon to take a look and advise in situ as there are so many variables to consider. However, it should be possible to prop the tree up. If you are using a tree trunk or wooden beam, the angle should be at 90 degrees to whatever you are supporting. However if the tree is actually falling down, it will drive the prop into the ground over time unless there is some sort of plate or footing to spread the weight.

  2. Mick Sidaway says:

    I have a medium size eucalyptus that we planted 3 years ago, close to a pergola. Unfortunately, the prevailing winds have forced it over and the ground seems to be developing a crack on the upwind side. It has two large boughs and a main trunk with good foliage. Is there a way to stop it moving any further?

    1. Frankie Meek says:

      Thank you for your comment. It is difficult to suggest anything other than suggesting staking on the windward side with suitably substantial stakes and ties. Kind regards Ashridge.

  3. Anne-Marie Pagett says:

    I have an overgrown escalonia which is now a tree and leaning badly in the wind. I want to keep it for privacy if possible but I do not have a friendly engineering workshop to make me the Y shaped sturdy prop I need. Can you suggest where I could buy one? None of the usual commercial outlets seem to have them. Many thanks Anne-Marie

    1. Ashridge Nurseries says:

      Hi Anne-Marie,

      It will have to be a bespoke support if you want something really effective and long lasting.

      Personally I would cut it back in stages to let light down to base to encourage bushy regrowth, reducing the height gradually so that the lean is no longer an issue. You might lose privacy for a growing season, but you’ll save an awful lot of bother.

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