Tree guards and shelters

Protection options for young trees and shrubs vary according to the potential threats faced, says Sally Drury.

Q: Is it best to use guards or shelters for protection?

A: It all depends on what it is that you want to protect and what you need to protect against.

Tree guards are designed to provide a barrier to browsing and nibbling animals. In some instances it is necessary to protect trees from people and vehicles — including ride-on mowers and trimmers.

Tree shelters additionally create a "mini greenhouse" around the tree or shrub to give it a good start and stimulate height growth. But shelters do not suit all trees and shrubs. Conifers tend to suffer in them and beech is likely to develop sooty mould in an unventilated sheltered environment.

Q: What are the implications if the site is windy?

A: A well secured shelter will protect a young tree from the elements and from factors such as salt splash from winter roads. However, you need to be aware that the plant may grow "soft".

Once the tree reaches the top of the shelter or the shelter is removed, it could experience a severe shock. On exposed sites you might be better using guards or a shelter with degradable film that breaks down to leave a mesh guard.

Q: What should be used against rabbit damage?

A: You can use spirals, mesh tree guards or shelters — so long as they are 60cm tall. If hares are the problem, you need to protect the tree to a height of 75cm.

Q: Is there a right way up for spiral guards?

A: Yes. Get it wrong and the wind may undo the spiral or the tree trunk may be strangled.

Q: What's the latest news on guards and shelters?

A: Last year, Acorn Planting Products was acquired by Boddingtons. Tim Oliver has been appointed as sales manager at Acorn, which is run as division of Boddingtons.

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