Tree Guards: Protected Forestry and Backyard Landscapes

Tree guards are an indispensable component in the world of forestry and backyard landscapes. They play a significant role in providing protection to young saplings and established trees from environmental elements like excessive wind blow, fluctuations in temperature and wildlife. Historically, tree guards have been used by gardeners and forest caretakers to safeguard their green investments and ensure healthy growth for generations.

Tree guards come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, each designed to fulfill a different purpose. No matter the design, all tree guards’ function to shield trees from potential threats while allowing them to grow free from harm. Regardless of the challenges faced by the trees in our backyards and forests - be it harsh weather conditions, grazing animals, or a changing climate, tree guards have proven to be effective defense mechanisms against most if not all threats.

In the face of increasing environmental concerns, tree guards have become an important component for sustainable forestry as protective tree accelerators.

Tree Guards: Protected Forestry and Backyard Landscapes

Sustainable forestry is simply defined as practice that improves the health of our forests while meeting the socio-economic needs of the present without compromising those of future generations. Tree guards play a crucial role in achieving this goal as they ensure the survival and growth of trees, contributing to the overall health and longevity of our forests.

Protection from both biotic and abiotic factors is one of the key advantages of using tree guards. Biotic factors include threats from animals, insects, and other living organisms, while abiotic factors include environmental conditions such as wind, rain, heat, and cold. Tree guards provide a physical barrier against these factors, ensuring that the trees are protected and have the best possible conditions for growth.

In the context of sustainable forestry, tree guards contribute to biodiversity conservation. They protect young saplings from being eaten or damaged by wildlife, thereby promoting a diverse and healthy forest ecosystem once they grow and mature. Additionally, using tree guards minimizes the need for chemical repellents or pesticides, further promoting environmental sustainability.

diiferent types of tree guards used to protect forests and landscape trees

Protection from Windblow - A Role for Tree Guards

Windblow, or windthrow, refers to the uprooting or breakage of trees due to strong winds, which can have devastating effects on a forest, particularly on young saplings that are not strong enough to withstand such forces.

Both enclosed type tree guards and wire to stake tree guards protect trees from high winds. Enclosed tree guards deflect wind away from the tree, while wire to stake tree guards prevent the tree from being uprooted and blown over. reducing the force exerted on it. Both types of tree guards ensure that the tree can grow straight and strong without being affected by excessive windblow.

In addition to providing a physical barrier against wind, tree guards also create a microclimate around a young tree seedling. This microclimate can help to moderate the effects of a cold blowing wind.

Protection from Grazing Wildlife – Another Key Role for Tree Guards

Grazing wildlife poses a significant threat to young saplings and trees. Animals such as deer, rabbits, and rodents can cause extensive damage to trees by feeding on their bark, leaves, and buds. Excessive grazing can lead to the death of the tree or stunt its growth, impacting the overall health of the forest or a return on timber investment.

Tree guards provide an effective solution to this problem. They create a physical barrier around the tree, preventing animals from reaching the bark and leaves. This not only protects the tree from damage but also deters animals from attempting to continue to feed on it.

By preventing damage to trees, they eliminate the need for lethal control measures against wildlife, which contributes to the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity, aligning with the principles of sustainable forestry.

Protecting a Tree from the Elements with Tree Guards

Tree guards are designed to protect trees from various environmental elements. This includes protection from extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, as well as protection from harsh weather conditions such as rain, snow, and hail. Some types of tree guards even work like a greenhouse, creating a microclimate around the tree that accelerates growth.

In hot weather, tree guards can help to shield the tree from direct sunlight, preventing sunscald. This is a condition where the tree's bark gets sunburned, leading to cracks and damage. In cold weather, tree guards can act as insulators, protecting the tree from a cold blowing wind and frost damage.

The microclimate created by tree guards also helps to maintain soil moisture levels. This can be particularly beneficial in areas with low rainfall or during periods of drought. It also helps to reduce evaporation, ensuring that the tree has access to the water it needs for growth.

Different Types of Tree Guards

Plastic Tree Guards

Plastic tree guards are among the most commonly used types of tree guards. They are lightweight, easy to install, and offer good protection against grazing wildlife and windblow. These tree guards are generally made from UV-stabilized polyethylene or polypropylene, which makes them durable and resistant to weathering. Many last for years.

types of perforated tree guards for young tree seedlings and tree saplings

Metal Tree Guards

Metal tree guards are robust and durable, offering excellent protection against larger animals and harsh weather conditions. They are typically made from galvanized steel or iron, making them resistant to rust and corrosion. These tree guards are also reusable and recyclable, making them a sustainable choice for forestry. Metal tree guards are typically hammered into the soil next to the trunk of the tree seedling and secured with weather resistant banding.

Mesh Tree Guards

Mesh tree guards offer a balance between protection and visibility. They are made from a mesh material, which allows sunlight and air to reach the tree while keeping out animals and wind. These tree guards are lightweight and easy to install, making them a popular choice for many forest caretakers. Perforated tubes are often used in the place of mesh tree guards.

Wood Tree Guards (Stakes and Wood Boxes)

Wood tree guards, including stakes and wood boxes, offer a natural and aesthetically pleasing solution for tree protection. They blend in with the forest environment and provide effective protection against grazing animals. However, they may not be as durable as their plastic or metal counterparts and may require regular maintenance. A 4-sided vertical wood box banded top and bottom fabricated with 1 x 8 pine planks was in use as tree guards before the advent of plastic.

Specialized Tree Guards

Hollow Tube Tree Guards

Hollow tube tree guards are designed to protect trees from both environmental factors and wildlife. They are typically made from plastic and offer a high level of protection against windblow and grazing animals. These tree guards are easy to install and remove, making them a convenient choice for forestry. In some instances, they are perforated to allow the pass through of ambient air.

Expandable Tree Guards

Expandable tree guards are designed to grow with the tree, providing protection throughout its growth stages. They can be expanded or contracted as needed, ensuring that the tree has room to grow without being constrained by the guard. These tree guards are typically made from a flexible material such as plastic or mesh. Some designs are telescopic.

Staked and Wire Tree Guards

Staked and wire tree guards offer a high level of protection against larger animals. They consist of stakes that are driven into the ground around the tree, with wire mesh attached to the stakes. This creates a strong and durable barrier that can withstand the force of animals like deer and elk.

Wire and stake tree guards consist of at least 3 stakes hammered into the ground arranged in a circle a distance from the tree. The stakes are connected to the trunk of the tree with a non-corrosive (galvanized) wire to each of the stakes. The wires are pulled taunt and feature a tightener along the wire so tension can be adjusted as environmental conditions change.

Wildlife Protection with Tree Guards

Spiral Tree Guards

Spiral tree guards are designed to protect trees from all types of wildlife. They are typically made from a flexible plastic material that can be wrapped around the tree in a spiral pattern. This provides a physical barrier against animals while allowing the tree to grow freely.

spiral tree quards expand as the trunk of your tree grows

Sonic Tree Guards

Sonic tree guards are a modern innovation designed to deter wildlife from approaching trees. They emit a high-frequency sound that is unpleasant to animals, stopping them from approaching the tree. These tree guards are particularly effective against larger animals like deer, which can cause significant damage to trees.

Choosing the Right Tree Guard for Your Needs

Choosing the right tree guard depends on several factors, including the type of tree, the environmental conditions, and the potential threats to the tree. It's important to consider the size and growth rate of the tree, as well as the type and size of the animals that pose a threat. For young saplings, lightweight plastic or mesh tree guards may be sufficient. For larger trees or those in areas with high wind speeds, more robust options like metal tree guards or staked and wire tree guards may be necessary. Sonic tree guards can be an effective solution in urban areas.

Article posted, Feb 04