At this tender age the young trees are only about 30 to 40cm tall and are vulnerable to being eaten by rabbits and deer.
Protecting the trees with plastic tree guards
Most of The trees we are planting are saplings, known as whips. They are young trees grown from seed or cuttings and are about 2 years old. These are supplied to us by The Woodland Trust complete with tree guards and treated wooden stakes. At this tender age the young trees are only about 30 to 40cm tall and are vulnerable to being eaten by rabbits and deer. To help protect the little trees, on planting we install the tubular translucent plastic tree guard around them. This acts not only as protection from being eaten, but also acts as a little greenhouse protecting the tree from wind and extremes of heat and cold. The guards can give the whips a boost as they establish themselves in the first few years of growth. The stake helps support the tree and keep the guard upright against the wind.
The big downside is that the tree guards are made of plastic! We hate using plastic and putting so much of it into the environment. This plastic will require collection and recycling when it has finished it’s service life
We have been actively looking for biodegradable alternatives, but up to now have not been able to find a tree guard that can offer all the advantages of the plastic benefits such as long life, and green house type protection. But biodegradable plastics that rival the qualities of traditional fossil oil based plastic are now beginning to become available and we hope soon we will be able to offer fully biodegradable tree guards with all the advantages of the plastic ones.
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Who looks after the trees ?
After we have planted the trees and put the protection around and securely staked them, it is the responsibility of the land owner to make sure the ongoing survival of the trees and that they are looked after until they become established.
If it is very dry this might mean watering them and providing ongoing protection from rabbits and browsing deer.
If some trees are lost it is also up to the land owner to replace them. After about 5-7 years, once the trees have established themselves and grown, the tree guard should have done its job. The tree will be growing well and will be big enough not to need it’s protection. The guard can be cut along its length and removed. Unfortunately removal renders them useless to use again as tree protection, but they can be recycled and made into useful and durable agricultural products.
It is the landholders responsibility to remove and recycle the tree guards.