Live stakes are the quickest and most economical method of re-vegetating eroding stream or pond banks or creating a windscreen. Bundles of live stakes can be bought for little more than $1 per stake while young trees may cost anywhere from $5 to $15 each and even more.
Live stakes are also much quicker to plant than a bare root or potted plant, not even requiring a shovel. If planting in very soft, moist soil, such as that found on stream and pond banks, they can only be pushed into the ground by hand. If the land is too hard for this, a simple length of rebar, such as is used for reinforcing concrete, should be used to create a pilot hole for the stake.
Live stakes are merely cuttings taken from a woody, dormant plant and are available in varying lengths. They are an excellent way to restore vegetation on stream and pond banks that have been disturbed by development, agriculture or other activities. Leaving such areas bare leads to erosion, loss of land, sediment pollution of the water and, subsequently, loss of wildlife. The roots of plants in these areas effectively reinforce the soil, just as rebar strengthens concrete, and prevents such damage. Such plantings also add beauty to the landscape, as well as shade the creek from sunlight, eliminating algae growth and promoting cool temperature waters that attract fish.
There are individual plants that lend themselves excellently to this method, such as willows, buttonbush, and silky dogwood. Any of them will do well along streams and ponds, but to create a windscreen in drier areas, the silky dogwood will be more successful. It is important to remember not to lose heart if your live stakes do not exhibit much above ground growth the first year as the vital root growth, without which the stakes will not survive, is taking place during this time.