Tree guards: the best tree guards for protecting your newly planted trees
Tree guards can protect new saplings from deer and other wildlife. Here is a breakdown of how to use them and the best ones to get.
Tree guards are helpful accessories when planting a tree, especially if you live in the countryside and near deer or other large wildlife, or if a tree is planted in an urban area. A tree guard can protect the new bark on saplings from damage from a variety of unwanted sources such as animals, chemicals and garden tool damage in the early years of them being planted.
Why do you need tree guards?
Planting trees is one of the most important things we can do for our local environment. Trees protect us, provide habitats, food for all sorts of wildlife, and help to absorb the vast amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Planting a tree in your garden or local area is a win-win. And of course, when you first plant a tree it’s not going to be a huge, established specimen. It’ll be a sapling that needs as much care from you as possible as it grows. Depending on where you live and your garden visitors, you may need a little help to do this with a tree guard. Young trees, aged 0-10 years, are very susceptible to being knocked and nibbled by deer, rabbits, foxes and more. A tree guard can provide that little bit of extra protection from clumsy legs, tongues and teeth. By wrapping the tree in a breathable material from the bottom up, you’re giving it an extra chance to get to an established size.
Are tree guards sustainable?
This is a difficult one to answer. We all need to be using less plastic in the garden and the woodland trust stopped using single use plastic tree guards last year. Plastic is, unfortunately, the material most prevalent for tree guard usage and up until recently it was very hard to find biodegradable options on the commercial market. You can find tree guards made from metal, wood and biodegradable materials, but harder materials are inevitably better at tree protection. The Woodland trust’s report on tree guards is very helpful and thorough.
How to make plastic tree guards more sustainable
If you find that none of the more sustainable options work for you, and you have to go for a plastic tree guard, there are a few things you can do to mitigate their environmental impact.
Avoid your tree guard being single use
Tree guards are often created in such a way that they can be hard to use again. Aim to avoid these and if you’re using plastic think about how you can store and care for these guards so you can use them next time you plant a tree, or pass them on to another person.
While ideally you’d reuse, if you need to throw away, try to recycle. And this doesn’t necessarily mean shoving it in the recycling box and letting someone else deal with it. Perhaps you can adapt the old tree guard into something helpful you can use in the garden: a cover, matting, a waterproof shelter. If you can’t, then letting it be recycled by the experts is the next best thing.
Read our guides on how to plant a tree and the best tree-planting tools you can buy online.
The best tree guards for your garden
Clear tree guard
These Elixir Gardens Clear Tree Guards are made from hardwearing, clear and unobtrusive PVC plastic, making them perfect for wrapping around sapling and growing trees. They are designed to wrap round a young tree, while allowing for air circulation, via a spiral design that allows the tube to expand with the tree as it grows. The tree guards come in three sizes – We stock our clear tree guards in sizes of 45cm x 4cm and 60cm x 4.5cm. They are also available with tree ties and bamboo canes if your plants need additional support.
Metal plant guards
These plant cages are versatile affairs, made from metal that's sturdy and durable and not easily broken. They have a plastic-plated surface, which makes them rust and corrosion resistant. In the pack you will find five cages, with 20 fixed ground nails and 100 black ties, which should give you enough to properly protect your trees. These guards are low and could also be used to protect flowers, vegetables and fruits from hungry animals too.
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The semi-circular cages fit easily together and you can adjust the diameter size according to the size of plant you have. The measurements are 14 inches/35.6 cm in diameter x 24 inches/60 cm in height. These tree guards will work best for small flowers and shrubs.
Biodegradeable tree guard
- Buy now from Gardener Supplies (£3.10)
This biodegradable earth board tree guard is made from biodegradable material, which is also weather resistant. The guards are made to last a year, at which point you'll be able to let the board biodegrade into the ground. They measure 60cm x 10 cm and there is no need for tree ties or staking. The material is FSC approved cardboard.
Buy now from Gardener Supplies (£3.10)
Shrub and tree guard
- Buy now from Green-Tech (£1.36)
These tree guards are made with a large diameter, designed for shrubs, trees and bushier plants. The trees will be protected from nasty chemicals, as well as voles and provide a protected micro-climate for the tree (think air flowing through the guard) which may mean your tree will last longer. There are two different sizes, 60cm x 130mm - 160mm or 75cm x 130mm - 160mm. These guards are UV stabilised, which can help to prolong the lifespan of the tree.
- Buy now from Green-Tech (£1.36)
Spiral tree guards
These deer resistant tree guards are entirely see-through which will mean you'll barely notice they are there. They are suitable for all tree types, although possibly the best to focus on would be hawthorn, beech, and other hedge planting and they measure 60 cm. They aren't made from recycled material, but you could use them again on other plants.
These tree guards come in a box of 100 tree guards, so this option is probably the best if you're planting a lot of trees out there, and a must if you're near any rabbits or hungry deer. The tree guards can also stretch and will work on a host of different tree sizes.
Mesh tree guards
- Buy now from Fine Forestry (£63 per 100)
A mesh option makes sense if you want to make sure that songbirds and small mammals can climb out of and up the tree trunk. These mesh tree guards are stretchable and their diameters measure at 120mm, while they are sent flat packed for ease of transport. This type of tree guard ensures that there's sufficient air circulating around the tree and water doesn't build up inside your tree guard.
- Buy now from Fine Forestry (£63 per 100)
Tree trunk protector
These plastic tree protectors will last, and will provide a nice amount of air flow to the trunks. They are 40 inches high and 18 inch wide with a 6 inch diameter. In one pack there are five, alongside tree ties and land pegs. These tree guards are simple to put up and should be excellent protection agains garden machinery, animals, or strong winds.
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