Anyone use those spiral tree guards?

I mostly protected young trees with aluminum screen i get from a hardware store that replaces screen on doors and windows. But that’s a nuisance, and i don’t always do it. And my baby hazel bush got badly damaged by rabbits over the winter.

So when i got an ad from Stark today, selling spiral tree guards (among other stuff) i wondered if they work? Anyone like them?

I’ll probably stick with screen for my delicious apple branches, but might try the plastic for less enticing plants like the hazel, or a young dogwood.

They are the standard for commercial production in my area and I use them on hundreds of trees in my nursery. They even protect trees from deer if you go up almost 3’ and hold the top up with electric tape- at least my deer. I try to remove them every spring once rodent damage is unlikely and store them for the next season. Time consuming, but one problem with them is the encourage borers and wooly apple aphids if left on the tree through growing season. They also last a lot longer if you take them out of strong sun.

I wouldn’t call them environmentally friendly, however. AMLEO may have a better deal on them than Starks.

1 Like

They don’t last very long - the plastic gets brittle and breaks

Hardware cloth is a better alternative imo

1 Like

I’ve used the stark ones for years and had no problems. They do get brittle after a few years but they need to come off the trees after a few years anyway. I’m using the same set I pulled if my apple trees on my small pecans. They are 6 years old and still work

I use them - and remove them every once in awhile to make sure no insects have built webs or nests in them. They do a good job of protecting, as far as I can tell - without girdling. And I like that they don’t scratch the bark (like the hardware cloth). I have bigger trunks protected with hardware cloth that I cut so that it protects from the ground up to the first tier of branches. I don’t close them - so that we can easily take them off and weed and prune suckers, etc. But they do tend to scratch unless you stake them in place - away from the trunks.

1 Like

For a small home orchard, I tend to agree, except for people always struggling to get caught up. The spirals go up quick and should last 3-years even if you keep them on the tree- although all spirals are not of equal quality. I’ve had ones that were too brittle the first time put on the trees.

All of my trees have them. They work just fine!.

1 Like

I don’t like the idea of keeping the spirals on the tree - I think disease etc can breed in there. Hardware cloth can be left in place.

I’ve got some black plastic large-mesh stuff that can also stay on the tree, but it’s hard to cut it to size.

1 Like

Maybe I’ll stick with the window screen. It’s easier than hardware cloth (which i also use for some stuff) because i can cut it with scissors, it rarely cuts me, and i can fasten it with an office stapler. Also, if i remember to hit up the hardware store at the right time, it’s free.

1 Like

I’ve used the spiral ones for years and they work great. Just take them off when the tree trunk gets larger. If not the bottom part of the tree can get and stays wet. I use another more expandable tree guard when the trunks get bigger. It helps protect them from the weed whipper and other things from getting the bottom part of the trunk.

If you are ever in a real hurry, aluminum foil will get trees through girdling season, although bucks might ignore it.

1 Like

They have small holes perforating the tubes.

1 Like

True, but they still hold a lot of moisture, making the bark kind of punky and inviting to borers. I use them anyway, and can afford an occasional borer hole, they’ve never killed a tree, although I’ve had pears decapitated by them, but not as a result of a plastic spiral.

What you need/want is something like this:

It’s plastic fencing. You can cut it with tin snips. It lasts several seasons.

I’ve bought it from several sources. I use the 3-foot high rolls and cut them to 3-foot lengths. I don’t wrap the tree trunks tightly with it but form a cylinder about 10 inches in diameter. Because my apples are staked, I can overlap the raw edges of the fencing at the stake and secure them with baling wire. The trunks breathe.

I remove the fencing during the summer and redeploy it after whitewashing the tree trunks in the fall. Not only does the fencing fend off rabbits, but it also shades the trunks slightly and keeps the trees from breaking dormancy too early in the spring.


I find that claim doubtful, but I do wish it was that simple. Some claim it you keep the soil frozen by mulching heavily after a winter low it works. That is the one I keep telling myself I will attempt. I believe that the only shade that meaningfully extends dormancy is on the branches themselves, for which I have years of strong anecdotal evidence on my own property.

Perhaps you have similar evidence from trees standing side by side, but it seems illogical that such a simple solution to such a wide spread problem has been overlooked.

I’m not saying you aren’t right, only that it is hard for me to believe. Some follow up on the extent of your anecdote might be helpful.

Yes, that’s the sort of thing I use - it protects against varmints and weekwackers during the growing season

Sorry, it’s only a closely held belief. I do whitewash the trunks. This has the effect of reflecting the spring sun, thus keeping the trunks cool, particularly those near structures such as wood fences and walls that do catch and re-radiate the heat of the sun. My object is to keep the sap from running in the afternoon and freezing at night. The plastic fencing provides a bit of shade. It’s not in contact with the trunks, so it doesn’t conduct any heat to the trunks. These practices do not entirely prevent cracking, however.

Commercial growers have millions of dollars at stake where a few days delay could make the difference. It is common “knowledge” in the literature that shade on an entire tree delays growth and it is often suggested apricots be planted where the low sun is blocked entirely.

On a couple of years when my stonefruit crop was almost entirely frozen out, a couple of trees in relative shade bore fruit. The only trees of hundreds. However, it is my "belief, that trees rely on the branches for the info that spring is here.

Half a century ago when I grew high-grade cannabis before early flowering varieties of Indica were brought and bred here, I used to pull plants below surrounding brush in the late summer to speed up flowering by fooling them about the actual angle of the sun.

As a newb, I was told that I needed to protect my tree trunks. I cut 4" corrugated drainage pipe into roughly 20" long sections. I have these on 10 of 11 of my fruit trees. Pulled one off as the tree’s caliper had reached a size where I felt it probably wasn’t necessary Any thoughts on this tactic? Necessary/unnecessary? Possible damage that could result.

They work pretty well against deer rubs.