It pains me; I honestly squirm in my seat when driving through a commercial or residential development and see newly planted trees wrapped in white plastic tubes. These tubes have generously been gifted with the term tree guard.
What is this tubing you ask:
A white piece of plastic tubing is cut to length of the tree being transplanted and next cut lengthwise to fit around a newly planted tree. (See picture to the right–> this tree has outgrown its tubing, a common issue to be discussed.)
These “guards” are automatically being sold with new trees with the assumption that they will better protect your trees from mechanical and rodent damage. However, many people don’t know about the many negative consequences that come with adding guards such as these to trees or more to the point, people don’t understand the processes of de-installation of tree guards. People simply assume that if this product is automatically coming with a new tree purchase – then it must be good, right?
Before I dive into my own vendetta with tree guards, let me first say:
NOT ALL TREE GUARDS ARE BAD!
Tree guards (when installed and removed correctly) solve many issues for trees and the people who tend to them, issues such as protection from:
sun damage, mechanical damage such as weed whackers, deter deer from rubbing, discourage rodents from eating the bark of trees and more.
But with all these benefits come grave disadvantages if you are not careful:
rubbing from loose guards can destroy bark, insects and mice love to nest in the space between guards and trees, and most commonly, guards too tight or not removed may girdle, choke, and kill trees.
Sometimes too much moisture trapped in the guard can cause bark disease and kill the entire tree with time, just like this poor guy.
Below is a common example of a tree WRAP that was not removed in a timely manner. Those in charge of this tree and the 17 others planted nearby, probably assumed or were told that these wraps would fall off of the tree as the plant grew. It’s seeing trees like the one below that get me fired up, the issues are PREVENTABLE, but people are unaware of these issues and many others.
You can see in these pictures two issues that occurred because of the tree wrap. 1) the tree was becoming girdled and resulted in the bark continuing to grow where it could, through the splits in the wrap and 2) the wrap left a nasty abrasion to the trunk of the tree where it was unable to expand.
All of the pictures you see in this post are within a mile of my home, I’m sure that if you look at trees near your home or work, you too may find trees that have been damaged due to products that were meant to better protect and improve the likelihood of survival.
But there is hope.
Depending on what issues you are trying to solve there is a better solution for you and your tree.
We would obviously suggest the use of TreePans.
But there are many different styles of guards and wraps for you to choose from… plastic, burlap, mesh, paper, biodegradable, recycled plastic and more.
The University of Minnesota Extension has favored burlap wraps in the past stating…
“Hardware cloth can be left on year-round, but it must be large enough for the trunk to allow for growth.”
As the U of M extension warns, there is one issue with all guards, wraps, shelters, protectors alike and that issue is user error. –> People need to be more aware that their trees need attention and if left unattended may suffer.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could leave a product around your tree and it would EXPANDwith the GROWTH of your trees?
**Not choking your tree with growth…
**Up to 12″ in diameter…
**Low-profile design that is much more aesthetically pleasing…
**Also waters your tree..
**And is REUSABLE!
I wonder where you could find a product like that?
I hope you take away from this post a new knowledge of the disadvantages to tree guards, how they will hurt your trees if not removed in a timely manner, as well as other options when looking for ways to protect trees!