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I have an oak sapling, self seeded (or by a squirrel) about 7 years ago. It is now over 2.5 meters (8 feet). It had a pair of leaders at about 1 meter, one of which was removed last year.

In addition to being relatively spindly overall, the top meter is now particularly not vertical. Mostly it has not been staked but it is in a bed with shrubs around, which protect the base from wind. For the past 9 months it was staked vertically with a 1.8m cane, which has now been removed and replaced by the pair of angled canes in the picture (which is almost certainly a mistake).

Any suggestions on how to correct or encourage a better form?

spindly top

2nd leader removed

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If your oak is self-seeded it shouldn't really need staking. Try and pull a self-seeded oak seedling out of the ground and you'll see how firmly rooted they are. Staking can actually be counterproductive as trees react to wind by building a stronger trunk and root system. As for encouraging a better form, my advice is to let your tree do its own thing. If it's being shaded by other plants, etc it will naturally try to grow towards the light. There's not much you can do about that. The one thing you can do to give it a good start in life is to keep a vegetation free circle about 1.2 metres diameter around its base. Having a self-seeded oak in your garden is quite a feature. Enjoy!

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