It is about the time of year when we start hearing questions from our customers about the best way to install plant tags on plant stakes in the ground. The hot summer has dried up the soil and the moisture that most of us expect to come with the Fall season hasn’t yet arrived. The ground here, especially in Virginia, is as hard as a rock!

So, what are some ways to make it easier to install plant tags with stakes into the ground when the soil is solid? I thought I’d write a short post to share what I’ve been doing to install my plant tags and stakes at this time of year and hopefully stir up some discussion to get even more ideas from our users.
Plants Map stakes are made out of aluminum. They are roughly 20″ tall and the top has a bend so that the tags and signs can be mounted. The “pointy” end goes in the ground.

Once a tag or sign is attached to the top of the stake with the 3M double-sided tape, there really isn’t an option to remove the tag or sign without damaging it. So, most of the time, if not all of the time, I’m installing the stakes in the ground with the tag or sign already attached. This means that it is not really possible to use a hammer or mallet to hit the top of the stake without damaging the sign.

I have three methods that I use:

  • Method #1: “Patience” – Push the stake in the ground as much as possible and wait. Once it rains, or after I water my plants, I push it in a little further. Wait for rain again and push it in more. I’ve found that once the ground dries out, the stakes are very difficult to remove. Which, in a public garden would probably help to deter theft.
  • Method #2: I use my hori hori plant knife to cut a hole in the ground and then I can insert the stake into the hole. My knife has a flat top on the handle as well as a very heavy duty and thick blade, so it can be pounded with a mallet without any damage. If you have a hori hori knife, I recommend this method. The hole in the ground will be larger than you need, so once you install the stake, pour some water in the hole to shift some of the dirt back into place and hold the stake in the ground firmly.
  • Method #3: Use a bulb auger. Mine is about 15 inches long and is 1.75″ in diameter. I bought it at my local Tractor Supply store and it supposedly has a lifetime warranty. The auger works pretty good, but be careful, because if the bit hits anything underground, and you are using a strong drill, it will wring the drill out of your hand or twist your wrist pretty good. Use two hands.

We’ve heard from other gardens that in order to deter theft, they fill coffee cans with cement and let the stakes harden in the coffee can and then they bury the can.

I hope this short post helps you with ideas on how to install your plant stakes when the ground is hard and dry.