A Tree shelter, or tree guard, is a type of plastic shelter used to nurture trees in the early stages of their growth. Tree shelters are also sometimes known as Tuley tubes or tree tubes.
Tree shelters protect young trees from browsing by most herbivores by forming a physical barrier along with providing a barrier to chemical spray applications. Additionally, tree Tubes (tree shelters) accelerate growth by providing a mini-greenhouse environment that reduces moisture stress, channels growth into the main stem and roots and allows efficient control of weeds that can rob young seedlings of soil moisture and sunlight.
An alternative to a traditional tree shelter is something called a Spiral Guard. These are coiled lengths of PVC in various diameters, lengths and colors. Manufactured from 100% recycled PVC, these are an economical and environmentally friendly means of protecting young trees from browsing wildlife and harsh conditions, at the same time preventing scrap plastics being sent to landfill sites.
They are particularly popular in the UK in landscape-scale planting schemes, but their importance has been established in the United States since 2000. About 1 million shelters were in use in Great Britain in 1983–1984 (Tuley 1985), and 10 million were produced in 1991 (Potter 1991)
Many variations of tree shelters exist. There is considerable debate among treeshelter manufacturers as to the ideal color, size, shape and texture for optimal plant growth. One ideal style in northern climates of North America has a height of 5 feet to offer the best protection from deer browse, with vent holes in the upper portion of the tube to allow for proper hardening off of hardwood trees going into the winter months and no vent holes in the lower portion to shield seedlings from herbicide spray and rodent damage.
Tree shelters must be assessed with alternatives such as fencing to keep animals out, loss if no shelter is employed and appropriateness of this method say with buying better quality seedlings of good provenance in a planting.
- Potter, M.J. (1991) Treeshelters - Forestry Commission Handbook 7 HMSO
- Tuley, G. (1985). "The growth of young oak trees in shelters". Forestry 58 (2): 181–19. doi:10.1093/forestry/58.2.181.
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