Annoying Shifting/Leaning Maple
I planted a red maple last year, maybe 4 feet tall, container grown. It was pretty top heavy, so I staked it. Well, this spring, this annoying rabbit that frequents my yard gnawed through the rope, leaving the tree without support (this rabbit and I go waaaayy back, lol). Anyway, I have since restaked the tree multiple times, trying to give it enough freedom of movement so it can develop strong roots, but it seems like after every storm, the tree is leaning in a new and exciting direction. This morning it's leaning to the northeast.
Yesterday I dug the root ball up partially and shifted it, but today, the darned thing is leaning again. The trunk of the tree moves quite easily in the root ball, which I believe is why it keeps leaning... not sure there is anything I can do about it.
The tree is growing quite well (minus whatever damage I did to it yesterday when I shifted the root ball). But I'm now to the point where I'm ready to rip the entire thing out of the ground and start over. Short of staking the thing so tightly that it can't move at all, is there anything I can do to correct this dancing tree of mine?