Tree guards and shelters

Without the right protection, it may not be worth planting young trees in the first place, Sally Drury warns

Image: Green-tech
Image: Green-tech

See our table of tree guard products and suppliers

Young trees face a tough start. They have to overcome the shock of being wrenched from the comfort of a pot or being dug from one piece of land and thrust into another. In many locations, and depending on the species, it may not be worth planting a tree unless it can be given protection.

While their roots are still hurting and feeding lines re-establishing a link with the soil, newly planted trees may be exposed to potentially deathly damage caused by wild and grazing animals, bored youths, harsh winds, herbicide splash, salt spray and run-off from winter roads — even the occasional wayward mower.

The best protection for the tree or trees being planted depends on the location and the threats as recognised by a site analysis. There is a wide choice of guards and shelters for use on single trees, small planting projects, roadside verges, urban schemes, rural sites and where trees are spaced far apart, such as avenues.

Spiral guards are a cost-effective means to protect young trees from rodents and small animals. Mesh guards are ideal where protection is needed from larger animals. Twin-walled polypropylene guards/shelters are strong structures for protecting against animals, mowers, road spray and herbicide applications. They also provide a microclimate for the tree, reducing moisture loss and aiding establishment, but they need to be supported with a cane or stake.

Metal tree guards tend to be used in urban planting schemes. They are usually made of mild steel and provide protection from animals, machinery, traffic and vandals. They can be reused. Timber guards are suited to parkland where the threat comes from farm animals and deer.

Selecting the right products for a planting scheme can be difficult. It is too easy to look at the bottom line and go for the cheapest items. To help specifiers better appreciate the differences between products, Tubex has a useful product-selector tool on its website to guide specifiers through the options by asking questions about the species being planted, site conditions, environmental factors, speed of installation and accessibility.

Fencing may also be an appropriate method of protection in some locations but will be most economic for square sites — erecting a fence around a long, thin site will dramatically increase the cost of protection per tree.

Tubex 12D combines starch-based biopolymer with an oxo-biodegradable polypropylene. Traditional polypropylene shelters photodegrade from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, but the catalysts in this new material accelerate degradation and reduce the reliance on ultraviolet radiation. Two service lives are offered, degrading after three or five years, available in the company’s Standard, Combitube, Ventex, Ecostart, Shrubshelter and Easywrap products.

[Note: Further to table attached, Alba Trees supplies recycled PVC spirals and is also a Tubex stockist.]

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