Garden Markers


Here is my half-ass attempt at using aluminum flashing with an engraving tip on a dremel tool. As you can see I’m not real steady.

What I need to figure out now is what kind of wire works best. Maybe I’ll try painting them grey or green and see how well the engraving still shows up.


Those look great to me. That’s much better than my handwriting.


Excellent work. Looks like they will readable for a very long time. Were they punched with a paper punch?


Yes. A 30 year old paper punch I found in an old shoe box full of junk. Worked perfectly.

I’ve got several different types of wire but I’m thinking most of my stuff is too thin. Any recommendations?


They look great to me too. Really good!


Speedster, they look great to me…hardly a half-assed attempt. The wire that works best is stainless. It’s really your only choice aside from aluminum which will break easily. I’m sure you are aware of electrolytic / galvanic action…it occurs super fast with aluminum…as in literally overnight with some dissimilar metals. Search ebay or elsewhere for stainless safety wire.



I use electric fence wire to wire lots of things. It comes in different gauges. Electric fence wire has galvanized coating, so it doesn’t rust. It’s not as good as SS wire but if you are using a lot of it to wire things, it’s easy to find at any farm supply, and fairly cheap.

I’ve tried pop can aluminum before as a marking tags, but we get so much wind here, the holes eventually tore out and the tags ended up on the ground. Perhaps they would have worked if they were affixed closer to the base of the trees.



I’ve heard the “urea” can also tamp down on scab infections on apple and pear trees. “Apply” the urea to the leaf litter in the fall! (It’s also a nitrogen-rich fertilizer). And the price is right…


Matt, I have been thinking about starting a topic on peecycling. Maybe I will. You are right, urine is a good source of urea. Also phosphorus and some trace elements. For trees that you want a boost of green growth, peecycling is a free, safe, environmentally responsible concept. As with anything, there are pros and cons. I did not know about the scab issue. I did not apply around my pears, because too-fast growth is susceptible to fire blight. I did apply to my pawpaws this year to boost growth, using a 1:4 dilution.



I think there is enough interest in urine as fertilizer to start a topic. I know there are quite a few people who take advantage of the practice.

For my part, I’m all for recycling (including biological recycling) but I’ve got too many trees for urine to do me much good. If you’ll excuse the expression, it would be like peeing on a forest fire.

As a start of the discussion, I’ll add the link below. It states a years worth of urine provides about 7 lbs. of N. For me, this is only a drop (of pee) in the bucket. So far, wood chips have been my bread and butter for fertilizer. I’ve applied about 40 loads this year.

That said, I think urine has value for small trees which have low N needs. And as you say, urine does have value for other nutrients essential for trees as well.


I can start a topic so I dont derail here. Last year I reviewed a number of studies and references. There was a long GW discussion that seemed divided between factions related to sensibilities, but often not all that thoughtful, and not so much evidence based science. I will see what I have - it’s somewhere in my blog - and see if there is anything new. It’s a reasonable thing to do. In my garden, peecycling and chicken house cleanings are our main source of added nitrogen.


Since this thread is titled " Garden Markers" , I guess it is o.k. to discuss all the different ways of “MARKING” our orchards.



speed- That is almost exactly the system I have used for all my tree tags, but in spite of your humble comments to the contrary, I think its amazing how well your writing looks! Mine looks like a 3rd grader’s crayon handwriting, only worse. Mine are also slightly larger because I have all the info you do, but I also include the source of the tree (ie which nursery). This is probably useless information, but I sort of like having it on record.
I really do believe our system of label making will result in many, many years of easy identification of our trees. One caveat that most people would have thought about but which I did not and perhaps others reading this wouldn’t have, is not to use copper wire. I thought I’d be clever by using copper wire since it doesn’t rust, is flexible and fairly strong when thick. But it also results in a reaction (electrolysis) that causes the aluminum flashing to turn a dark color fairly quickly, and to break down over time. I know…any high school chemistry student would have known this, but I just didn’t think about it so I wanted to reminders others as well.

EDIT: I didn’t notice that appleseed had already pointed out the electrolysis problem until I posted…he’s right…some of my aluminum tags hanging on uninsulated copper wire turned black pretty quickly, and from what I’ve read they may completely disintegrate over time. Interesting.


Well…I just tried my hand at making tags using trim coil and a couple things became quickly evident.

#1) The paper hole punch does do a great job of making holes. I really thought the soft aluminum would tend to stretch and bind. It didn’t, it worked perfectly.

#2) I wanted to stamp them using steel stamps and in my mind this worked wonderfully. In reality, it was horrible. For whatever reason it does not stamp well and I had a super high quality set of stamps. It’s also extremely difficult to properly align the letters.

#3) I thought this may be time consuming, but the reality is it is ridiculously slow going. Waaaay to slow for this to be a reasonable and workable method unless you only had a few to do.

#4) The stamping too (Dymo tapewriter) would have been money well spent AND then I also could have used stainless material.

I made a lot of tags that I didn’t stamp so I might try engraving, but fear that may be even slower. I doubled the aluminum to prevent ripping in the wind as Olpea mentioned. I think at least the tearing off issue would be taken care of in this way as it is easily four times the thickness of pop cans when doubled in this way.
Probably going to pop for the tapewriter.


The large font there was unintentional. Must have bumped the bold button. Sorry.


C’mon, just admit it, we know you were really hyped about the subject. :laughing:



The idea was to use a spray grade urea and spray on the leaf litter so that it breaks down faster and that must help with the scab wintering. There is a vid on the U Mass web site concerning this practice.


I just bought some AL flashing at HD. It is much thicker that pop cans and stiffer. I will try to punch it with a paper punch. While the SS wire would be the best if you already have the heavy AL wire used for electric fencing it should do nicely. I have not tried the dremel tool for engraving. What does the engraving tip look like?


I ended up buying a roll of 17 gauge aluminum wire that is used for invisable dog fences. I bought it from Lowes and 250’ of it was under $5. To me it is the perfect wire. I could not find SS wire locally and I felt that since the tags are already aluminum there would be no issues with incompatabile metals. The wire is heavy enough that I can not see it breaking in any way shape of form. And since it’s aluminum it’s very easy to twist.


The tip I used was pointed with a small ball tip about the size of a pin head.