leaning red bud tree
Greetings, Extension gurus. A red bud tree is my yard is doing great but leaning substantially and I'd like to have it grow straight. It's not leaning as in "about to fall" but perhaps may be seeking the sun. Hard to tell. You'll see it in the attached photo. I'm wondering if it would hurt the tree if I perhaps used well cushioned rope to pull it into an upright position and left the rope in place for perhaps at least six months to a year? The idea is to encourage it to grow vertically instead of leaning to the right side (as shown in the photo). If I were to do this, would it be better to perhaps do it in the fall? Or maybe it would have been better to do during the spring? Summer seems like a stressful time for plants.
You are correct that the tree is likely leaning to get more sun. It is normal and just fine to have it do this. If you want to try to train it to be more upright, you certainly could stake it using a smooth material such as broad canvas straps. See the following pages about staking and guying trees.
You could do the staking now. Do not leave the strap in place for more than one year and check on it periodically to make sure it is not causing damage (abrasion) to the trunk.
Is the yard on the left side of the fence your property? If it is not, you should also consider/ask the neighbor if they are okay with a portion of the tree hanging over on their side. They would have the right to prune it if it hangs over on their side of the fence.