I received the message below from a friend looking for advice on protecting young hardwoods seedlings.  A timely topic for spring!


Brett,  I'm looking for advice on tree protectors. I'm looking at pro/gro solid tubes, which give a greenhouse effect.  What I observed in the Adirondacks was solid with holes, 4' tall. The advice I received was to install the tubes upon planting. Your recommendations?


My response:

  • 4’ is good, but 5’ is better – especially if you expect significant deer pressure (which is probably the case, when compared to many parts of the Adirondacks)
  • You’ll want to use perforated tubes to minimize the greenhouse effect.  Otherwise, you may experience issues with frost-kill until the young trees are fully emerged.
  • You should install the tubes shortly after planting.  Make sure they are well-seated into the soil to avoid a chimney effect, and well-anchored.  Peter now uses rebar instead of wooden stakes.  A bit more expensive, but recyclable. If using wood stakes, try to source ones made from a durable wood like white oak or locust.
  • If planting oaks or most other hardwoods, good site preparation and on-going maintenance is critical to success.  You should attempt to keep competing vegetation back at least a couple of feel from the base of the young trees for the first few years.  Little hardwood trees do not like root competition from sod!


I recommend taking at look at our tree planting bulletin:  http://www2.dnr.cornell.edu/ext/info/pubs/management/TreePlantingBu...

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I agree with all that Brett stated above.  I will amplify the value in weed control for several years after planting.  Also, depending on snow depth and deer abundance a 5 ft tube is essential.  The impacts of deer on planted seedlings can make the difference between success and failure.  In one active planting trial, unprotected black locust was about 24 inches whereas protected black locust were 70 to 90 inches after two growing seasons (planted as 1-0) .  Pictures below.

First picture is black locust, started as 1-0 at about 12 inches after two growing seasons.  Note the rebar, 6.5' as stake.

The second picture illustrates band herbicide to control competing vegetation, with mowing between the rows.  Herbicide was glyphosate at about 2% A.I.  Spraying and herbicide twice to thrice per season.


Great advice from Brett & Pete.  Also to double down on Brett's advice to seat the tree tubes well into the soil - this not only helps prevent the chimney effect, it also helps keep the voles (also know as meadow mice) off the trees. I've seen voles take out over 50% of trees when they were not protected by tubes.



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